The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

U needs surveillance

By Matt Plummer

The University Campus Store is a bastion of security with undercover guards, electronic sensors and a recently upgraded camera system with many high-quality cameras. Earl Clegg, director of the campus store, said the new camera system “leads to more police apprehensions and court convictions.”

Considering the security the store enjoys, why can’t the same security be taken to every corner of campus? Although public opinion might vary on surveillance cameras, they are undoubtedly effective.

Recently, Presidents’ Circle was vandalized when letters from a sign were stolen8212;proving that crime does take place on campus. The Department of Public Safety reported 54 cases of burglary, two cases of aggravated assault, 18 motor vehicle thefts and five forcible sex offenses that the U Police Department responded to in 2007.

A campus-wide surveillance system would not only help prove those guilty in incidents, but also deter criminal and mischievous behavior from happening in the first place. Hallways, classrooms, the Union food court, HPER Highway and university parking lots are all places where cameras could effectively protect students, staff, faculty and property.

From a purely logistical standpoint, this would be a massive undertaking: The wiring, computer installation, number of cameras and so on are things that would take a bit of time. But these cameras would help keep students safe and thieves at bay, and that should be worth the cost.

The issue of privacy most certainly needs focus. It is occasionally argued that mass public surveillance is unconstitutional. Although I understand some concerns, according to the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals, this type of campus surveillance wouldn’t violate anyone’s rights.

In the case of United States v. Sherman, the court ruled “individuals videotaped in public view have no reasonable expectations of privacy, and could not challenge the government’s use of videotape at trial as violating the Fourth Amendment.”
This ruling applied to the defendant found guilty of a crime.

Marcus Nieto of the California Research Bureau said, “When this test is applied to video surveillance of public streets, the prevailing legal view is that it does not violate the Fourth Amendment.”

There seems no reason to fight for privacy in public, especially when you are doing nothing wrong. I understand and support privacy in your home, for medical records and for financial records but when walking on the sidewalk or into a building, there is no need. Being on public property forfeits your right to keep people from watching you.

Surveillance cameras would serve two primary purposes: deterring crime and assisting in an investigation. A Department of Justice subdepartment called Community Oriented Policing Services wrote in a 2006 publication, “(Surveillance) seeks to change offender perception so the offender believes if he commits a crime, he will be caught.”

This is not and would not turn into an 1984 campus where students are afraid of being watched. It would not infringe on your First Amendment right by censoring you through fear. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a random person walking on campus, but it does matter if you break the law. If random bystanders are caught on tape to ensure that crime is prevented, then so be it.

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