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Caught on Campus
Western donates for safety
By Paul-Mark Rendon
Western has made a $12,000 pledge to ensure downtown violence is caught on tape by this spring.
A plan to install 18 surveillance cameras in London's downtown and Richmond row areas, initiated by the Co-ordinating Committee for Community Safety last summer, now has Western's support in the form of a cheque which will cover the cost of one camera.
Perry Monaco, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, brought the motion forward to council said their $6,000 commitment to the camera initiative was approved at a Dec. 1 meeting and will be coupled with a matching contribution from Western's administration.
Social sciences councillor Ray Novak said he initially voted against the motion, but only because of concerns council would approve the deal before the USC's finance committee had the chance to OK the numbers.
Monaco explained the motion was brought to council before the finance committee because he needed an answer before the end of last year and council was scheduled to meet before the committee. Still, the USC and the finance committee overwhelmingly approved the grant, he said.
Ted Garrard, Western's VP-external, said money was not the biggest factor in administration's decision to co-sponsor the initiative. "If there's any concern, it's this [overkill of surveillance] for the downtown core. It's more of a philosophical concern that we have to resort to this in order to protect our personal safety," he said.
The violence in the downtown core last year, which included a fatal stabbing in January, resulted in the USC's call to action, Monaco said. "One of the largest consumers of downtown, especially the bars, are students. Although it's the City's responsibility to provide us with an atmosphere that's safe, it's also the community's responsibility to take charge themselves."
David Tennant, co-chair of the Co-ordinating Committee for Community Safety, said apart from the approximate $200,000 price tag for buying the cameras and related equipment, another $200,000 per year would be required to operate the system on a 24 hour basis.
"The important thing about surveillance cameras is their proactive nature. It allows police to move resources into trouble areas before the problem becomes serious."
The group will present the operational costs of the project to the Community and Protective Services committee on Jan. 31. The committee will then vote on whether or not to send the plans to city council, Tennant said.