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F-M colleges' security improvements slow but steady

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news Fargo, 58102
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

MOORHEAD – As the University of North Dakota moves to implement sweeping changes in its campus security, the three colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area continue to make improvements at a somewhat slower pace.

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UND has requested funding for 250 cameras and is looking into replacing all traditional locks with a keycard system, the Grand Forks Herald reported last week.

The University of Minnesota also is launching a surge of new technology, according to a report from Minnesota Public Radio. The university has activated keycard systems on more than 140 buildings and has added 16 cameras to the 1,600 already on campus. 

Both schools also are increasing their forces: UND has added two officers and a police dog, and the University of Minnesota has added three officers.

Here are ways in which the three local campuses have upped their security technology and officer presence in recent years:

Cameras

Minnesota State University Moorhead has 109 cameras, with another 23 set to be added this month, said Jan Mahoney, interim public safety director at MSUM.

Concordia College is running 80 cameras after adding about a dozen over the past year, said Bill MacDonald, Concordia’s director of public safety.

North Dakota State University did not respond to a question about its total number of cameras.

At UND, the push for more cameras comes from an increase in on-campus burglaries, but that hasn’t been the case at the Fargo-Moorhead institutions.

Burglaries are down at NDSU, with six in 2012, the most recent year of data, compared with seven in 2011 and 11 in 2010, according to the NDSU 2013-14 Security Report.

MSUM had four burglaries in 2012 and three in 2011, down from six in 2010. Concordia had two burglaries in 2012 and 2011, down from five in 2010, according to those campuses’ security reports.

Keycards

MSUM has been moving toward total keycard access since 2010, said Shane Kelly, coordinator of Parking and Key and Card Access.

Now, “almost every single physical door into a building on campus” is controlled electronically, he said. “I’d have to go around and count them. It’s hundreds, if not many hundreds.”

In Kelly’s experience, MSUM does not have a problem with break-ins. Kelly was a public safety officer from 2010 until he graduated in May and took the coordinator position. He hasn’t seen any break-ins during that time, he said.

The benefits of having a keycard system are that it can be controlled from a central location. From that location, officers can lock doors remotely or monitor if someone is trying to enter, Kelly said.

At Concordia, 40 of 42 buildings have at least one entrance or exit with electronic door access, MacDonald said. MacDonald estimated a half dozen electronic door locks were added in the past year.

At NDSU, “all residence halls, with the exception of Niskanen residence hall, are equipped with ID card access,” according to the Security Report.

Code Blue

When MacDonald started at Concordia in 2008 after 20 years at NDSU, he wanted to bring Code Blue to the smaller campus.

There are 25 Code Blue phones on the NDSU campus. When students activate an emergency button, the phones automatically ring the University Police Communications Call Center, according to the NDSU Security Report.

For the past five years, Concordia has installed one Code Blue phone per summer, and its fifth will be installed this month.

MSUM also has Code Blue phones and will feature them in a scavenger hunt and safety walk in September for Campus Safety Awareness Month, public safety intern Troy Williams said in an email.

Officers

No local campus has expressed plans to add more officers.

MSUM last added an officer about a year ago, and has one vacant position that Mahoney said will be filled “fairly soon.”

The school also hopes to have a new public safety director by Sept. 15; interviews are this week.

MSUM has five sergeant positions and eight student officer positions, Mahoney said, and they are not looking to add more.

“I think we’re fairly adequately staffed right now,” she said.

Concordia has 10 uniformed officers and last increased total full-time equivalent hours about two years ago by moving some positions from part- to full-time, MacDonald said.

“I think we are appropriately staffed at this time, but it’s certainly something we assess every year,” he said.

NDSU has 17 sworn officers, according to the Security Report.

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