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Looking at Pierce from all angles

Looking at Pierce from all angles
photo illustration by Nick Martinez

**UPDATE: The Story has been updated to reflect the full quote from Interim President Larry Buckley

Pierce College will be installing new security cameras on campus to ensure their students are safe during and after campus hours.

Vice President of Administrative Services Rolf Schleicher said that for the most part Pierce College is safe but they want to take the proper precautions to maintain student safety and school property.

“Pierce is a preventively safe college, particularly compared to the rest of LA. But we still want to make sure we’re safe guarding our property and our students in here very effectively,” Scheicher said.

Communications manager at BuildLACCD, Maricela Gomez said that the security cameras will be installed around campus.

“The Physical Security and Hardware project includes the installation of video cameras in the interior and exterior of buildings campus-wide,” Gomez said.    

Schleicher said they it took them five years to decide to install the cameras because when they first started the project was meant to be an analytics system.

“It was a very expensive $7 million project. It kind of blew up to that level because the district felt that predictive measures, which is what those analytics systems allow use a lot of artificial intelligence to kind of position the cameras in most effectively address a threat,” Schleicher said.

Schleicher said that some people do not feel comfortable enough to have cameras around Pierce but the majority like the idea having them around.

“We’re making sure that the folks on the campus are comfortable with the system we’re putting in and we can’t satisfy everyone. But I think we have a pretty good blend here where 156 with angle points that aren’t looking at classrooms,” Schleicher said.

Schleicher said that there will be two command centers.

“One of the command centers is going to be in the sheriff’s station and we have a dispatcher over there with cadets,” Schleicher said.

Schleicher said that the cameras are easily visible.

“Our cameras are prominent so if students ever see cameras that look suspicious they should let the sheriff know because in this environment, we haven’t had this at Pierce but I’ve heard like in local restaurants and stuff, you’re finding more and more people that are putting cameras and doing things they shouldn’t do,” Schleicher said.

Schleicher said this will be beneficial for students because everyone will be altered faster.

“It’s going to make us respond faster. It’s going to make us more accurate,” Schleicher said. “How we respond, not just like we know we’re addressing, but it also won’t incriminate people that had nothing to do with it.”

Director of Facilities Paul Nieman said they have other ideas to further ensure Pierce faculty, staff and student’s safety.

“One of the things that is critical is to be able to lock the doors to our classrooms from the inside,” Nieman said. “This has already been implemented in the north Mall buildings, both phase one and phase two. Phase two they have these levers on the inside and very easily within a second the doors locked.”

Nieman said that they have also used radios for security purposes.

“We did a very simple thing. We gave the sheriff one of our radios. They don’t carry it, but they have it in their office and if we see something I can go right to their channel and talk to them directly,” Nieman said.

There is currently 96 cameras installed and working. Schleicher said he is hopeful that the 156 cameras will be installed next month.

Gomez said the project should be finished by the end of spring.

“The project started in June of 2018 and is on track to be completed by the end of the spring 2019 semester,” Gomez said.

Interim President of Pierce College Larry Buckley said some staff are concerned cameras will be used to monitor them.

“There is some concern by faculty and staff, more staff than faculty, that these cameras might be used for purposes of evaluation, that we’re focusing them on somebody’s desk and seeing if they’re there doing their work all day,” Buckley said. “I understand that concern so we are trying to position cameras so that they’re about security and safety of spaces where people work. They’re not there to keep track of whether people are working and we need to position them in such a way that they feel safe and they are not invasive of their work space.”