Photo by Ben Stewart

After late December, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) upgraded their Communications Center so that the new station includes access to more security camera monitors, computers, space, communication devices and student involvement.

The Communications Center focuses on the speaking with officers and aiding them through the use of security cameras across Tech’s campus and boundaries.

“We have the ability to scan the campus and give another vantage point to the call. We have about 16 cameras that are set up around the perimeter of Georgia Tech and we have other cameras around the interior so that if service call comes up, we can pull up the camera and see the officers in the field. We can also look at areas where we have had crime in the past just to add another layer of security,” said Walter Warner, Communications Supervisor.

Initially, the communications center was located at the front entrance of the GTPD, and the resources of the communications center were more limited. Because improving the center would aid officers, the center was expanded along with video operations.

“We wanted to shift it to a new room, not only to add to the communications side, but to add to video operations as well,” said Robert Connolly, Deputy Chief of Police. “That’s why we took it from a communications center to an operations center. Initially, there was just a radio, a microphone and a computer and now, we have expanded to this. Our capabilities have greatly expanded.”

In the new Communications Center, a number of undergraduate students work at and use the center to provide a safer campus and prevent suspicious individuals from trespassing. Students in the Communications Center add a different point of view of the campus and enhance observation of different areas on campus that need to be watched.

“There have been a number of benefits working as a student,” said Jeremy Tallant, senior ChBE and CE major and GTPD employee. “When you think of the police department and you see the officers on patrol, coming in here and seeing all of the different facets that the department has is pretty interesting and you also see how much work they do to ensure the safety of the students.”

In addition, Tallant states that student employees have a perspective that allows them to identify students and distinguish people who should and should not be on the campus.

“A unique perspective of being a part of the student community is that we know what the population looks like,” Tallant said. “Looking into the video camera footage, you can see individuals who appear like they should or should not be on campus.”

Security cameras surveil multiple areas across the campus, but the GTPD is limited to how far it can observe the campus. For example, the GTPD is obligated to block out any view of dorm or apartment windows to respect student privacy.

Connolly mentioned that the new communications center makes the campus safer for students and allows officers to see what is going on in different areas before they arrive on the scene.

“This new center is just another enhancement that we have made to make the campus safer,” Connolly said. “The biggest thing is to show that you have your student help in the center as well. We sure can’t put a wall around campus but we can absolutely place eyes around it.”