There was no sign of struggle on the surveillance tapes in the Student Activity Center parking lot during the Jan. 16 abduction of a Grand Rapids senior, CMU police chief Bill Yeagley told Central Michigan Life on Friday.
“From what we have seen on camera, you couldn’t tell it was an abduction,” Yeagley said. “If you watched it and didn’t know there was an issue, you would say there are just some people getting into a car.”
In response, CMU will continue to add surveillance cameras to ensure the safety of students on campus.
Yeagley said there are more than 500 cameras scattered around campus, with several surveying the SAC. There are cameras in the entryway that cover portions of the parking lot and different locations within the SAC, he said.
After knowing the abduction occurred and equipped with the knowledge of the vehicle, the police found the incident on camera when the tapes were reviewed.
“There is already a long-term plan in our mind where we should be putting more cameras when we can,” Yeagley said. “More and more have been added each year.”
Approximately a half-hour before the abduction occurred, a CMU women’s basketball game ended with roughly 900 people filtering out of McGuirk Arena at different access points. However, the crowd did not obstruct the view of the abduction, Yeagley said.
“From my perspective, the lot wasn’t isolated and empty, but it wouldn’t be the same thing at the end of a football game when you have thousands of people walking through.”
In the four years Yeagley has been with the CMU Police Department, they have been examining the surveillance cameras alongside the Information Technology department.
Yeagley said the IT department installs and maintains the cameras. A small committee reviews them, makes sure they are working and identifies places where additional cameras are needed three to four times a year.
As new technology becomes available, the police and IT departments continue to replace some of those older ones and look at what areas could use more coverage.
“We identify where we think our activity may be high or where our volumes of people will be high and our cameras are antiquated,” Yeagley said. “Some of the older cameras can show there is a person but cannot identify the person specifically.”
Over the last four years, the university has consistently increased the number of cameras on campus and has a budget with Residence Life for repairs and other circumstances with regards to surveillance.
Vice President for Information Technology Roger Rehm said his department and the CMU police work together frequently.
“We’re pretty much joined at the hip,” Rehm said. “We work very closely with them on it.”
The growth of cameras on campus has been a direct result of the completion of new buildings, not from the lack of safety.
“It seems like every time we do a new building, the people that we are building it for are very interested in (cameras),” Rehm said. “It’s been quite a few years since we put up a new building without installing surveillance cameras with them.”
Rehm agreed that cameras are an important tool when it comes to safety, but they are only part of the answer.
“I don’t think the cameras themselves are the whole answer, but I think they are an important part of the answer,” he said.