State-of-the-art security

In the new Department of Public Safety and Security Services communication center, the department has access to all the cameras located around campus. The communication center is one of several new additions added to the department after their move to the Marvin and Harlene Wool Center from DuBourg Hall. Jennifer Wang / Photo Editor

Facility features new technology to ensure safety on campus

Department of Public Safety and Security Services has stepped into the 21st century with their recent move from DuBourg Hall to the Marvin and Harlene Wool Center. The move, which began on Dec. 19, 2011 and was completed last week, was a much-needed change, according to Field Supervisor Sergeant Pasquale Signorino.

“We’ve expanded our personnel, and, to be quite honest, DuBourg was getting a little cramped,” Signorino said.

DPSSS has grown to include more staff and technology in an effort to make the department more modern. The new facility includes a new communication center that has feeds from cameras around campus. This way, dispatchers can see incidents on campus as they are occurring and dispatch an officer even before a call to make a report is made.

Signorino said that there are plans to add approximately 190 more cameras as the department continues to expand.

“I think the new center provides a place where we can do more with technology and a place that, as far as the communication system goes, has moved the department into the 21st century,” Signorino said.

The new technology in the DPSSS facility aims to increase the effectiveness of daily department activities. Global Positing Systems (GPS) have been installed on each officer’s radio to better keep track of their location while the officers are on duty, and the department has begun to computerize reporting and dispatching.

“The use of technology will enhance our effectiveness in ensuring security,” Roland Corvington, DPSSS director said. “For example, the integration of the existing video surveillance into one location is more effective because, before, we had multiple systems in multiple locations.”

Along with increased surveillance, the facility includes a new holding cell. The cell will be used in the event of a situation in which an individual needs to be kept in custody while the St. Louis Police Department is contacted, and is only meant to contain suspects for a short period of time. The cell has only been used once to date, but Signorino said that it is available for any lawbreakers DPSSS may come across.

Though students are not exempt from being kept in the cell, Signorino added that he feels confident the cell will not have to contain any Saint Louis University students.

“We have some good students here,” Signorino said. “They’re too focused on their school work to get in trouble.”

The DPSSS facility also features new evidence lockers to store contraband and illegal substances until they are ready to be processed, in an effort to keep the chain of custody in tact. The lockers include refrigerated compartments and storage spaces of various sizes for evidence that may be larger than average. DPSSS has also added more offices, male and female locker rooms, a bike storage room and a squad room, a set up which allows officers to get ready for duty quickly.

“The layout of the space will, by its nature, make us more effective and efficient,” Corvington said.

In addition to their new facility, DPSSS plans to implement several other changes this semester. The department hopes to start hosting crime prevention seminars around campus, which will be open to students. In light of the recent switch from Whelan security officers to student desk workers, DPSSS provided training to the desk workers before the spring semester started.

“The transition to student desk workers went through seamlessly,” Signorino said. “There were hardly any issues and nothing came up that wasn’t address immediately.”

DPSSS has also implemented a Housing and Residence Life liaison officer to further ensure that the transition to the new security system will run smoothly. Officers are being assigned to specific dorms to work with the desk workers and residence life staff. Should an issue arise in a dorm, the desk worker can call or email their specific officer to discuss the best course of action. Officers will also have a greater presence in and around the dorms and make more frequent checks to ensure there are no issues.

“The officers are very enthused about getting involved in this program and the desk workers and residence advisor staff seem pleased with the transition,” Signorino said.

DPSSS also plans to create a new website that will offer department updates and list the dates and information about the crime prevention training seminars.