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Security Camera Approval

Our Board approved security camera implementation, yet not all agree with the initiative. What does the surveillance mean for us as a co-op?

Security Camera Surveillance Approval

CTC’s Board of Directors passed the motion to implement security cameras throughout co-op grounds, allocating up to $250,000 of University capital co-op monies in their recent meeting on September 25, 2019. The cameras will be purchased, controlled, and placed through the expert advice of Central Security and UMPD for the sole use at the CTC property. The proposed cameras will be transferrable solar mounted pole or mobile camera stations. On October 23, 2019 the University of Minnesota Liaison will present the Capital Budget Plan to the Board with further discussion of these allocated monies.

Board Approval Process

The 2018-2019 Board of Directors initiated CTC Management to gather information on all options to make this a possibility for the CTC Community in spring 2019. The current 2019-2020 Board continued this conversation with a vote required no later than September to have correct monies allotted to the Capital budget. In the interim of deciding the possibility of installing security cameras on property, UMPD is generously providing us with the continued use of the mobile police camera, to serve as an additional visual deterrent to any criminal activity. The updating of property safety watch signage has been another proactive visual, reminding criminals we are a community that watches and reports crime.

CTC Management conducted multiple informational resource gathering from UMPD and campus public safety statistics as to various options in relation to the feasibility and use of cameras. Between the Security service contractor and the University internal central security, CTC Management explored realistic feasible options that do not involve infrastructure overhaul (fiber, piping, labor, electronic parts and labor). Determining a practical solution was a top initiative of CTC Management.

Opposition: Costly and Ineffective

The motion passed four to two, in which there are important concerns from the defeated minority, as similarly exhibited by preceding board terms and members. The marginal opinion urges CTC and its stake holders to further analyze the cost benefit effectiveness of the usage of security cameras versus other alternatives for cameras. Examples include purchasing bike lockers for the co-op, double locking your bike up outside, and not leaving valuable items in vehicles, which are all easier, more effective and much less expensive ways to deter theft.

"The input that we got from the University police and CSCC [indicated] they won't actually reduce crime, and CTC residents and their belongings are not actually any safer. This false sense of security is exactly that - false. To vote to spend $250,000 of the co-op's money on something that makes everyone 'feel' safer but won't actually reduce or stop crime (or even help us catch the perpetrator all of the time) would be grossly irresponsible of me as a board member, especially when much cheaper options to deter crime exist and have not been tried out. If the 'feeling' of safety, a placebo, is what we are going for, then let’s purchase a placebo; fake cameras will do just as good of a job of scaring off potential perpetrators as the real thing."

Greater Context

The request for Security Surveillance Cameras as a safety addition to our community has been expressed from community voices through many Board of Directors terms. All Board members agree that the co-op community’s safety and security is a top priority and have thoroughly analyzed the logistics and rationality of implementing cameras in response to our community’s concerns. Past boards ultimately concluded the addition was not in the best interest of the co-op, as the project presents a substantial expense in exchange for what is considered a false sense of security. The University police have consistently stated to the board and community that cameras will not stop or decrease the crime that happens. Our sister co-op in Como, CSCC, has not seen a significant reduction in property crime with their security cameras since they were deployed several years ago. Thus, there are many indicators of doubt that the cameras will produce any results, especially with near total lack of visibility at night. 

There is additional uncertainty regarding productivity because the camera amount, type, and placement is unknown – despite the fixed price of $250,000 – as a result of transferring executive control to the University of Minnesota, a requirement for all capital budget projects. UMPD assures us the cameras might help catch one of the perpetrators at most, yet there will not be enough cameras to cover all areas of CTC premises. UMPD also adds there are more effective and economical solutions that include engaging the community residents with ongoing training on timely crime reporting and neighborhood watch campaigns.

A finishing, weighing factor considered the low crime rate present: CTC’s records show the leading crime consists of a total of vehicle break ins (14) and bikes stolen (8) from 2016-2019 (full internal crime reports table below). Therefore, previous CTC boards, as well as a minority of current board members, concluded the implementation of the cameras to be ineffective from a result-producing/crime-deterring standpoint and especially unviable in exchange of a significant expense for a project lacking co-op control and, thus, lacking dependable value.

The University of Minnesota Liaison and CTC Management concurs with Law enforcement/Public safety officials, in the fact that cameras provide a “perceived sense of security” and the most effective way to combat community crime is an actively engaged community watch/reporting system with resident proactive compliance of safety precautions.

Onward and Upwards

Our community’s safety and security are utmost priorities of our Board of Directors, on no occasion taking the responsibility lightly. While the surveillance system’s implementation process and actual effectiveness is unforeseeable currently, our member-elected board will continue to serve on behalf of co-op members’ best interests to ensure happy, healthy, and prosperous community now and in forthcoming generations.

Reminder to all residents that is very important to report any crime, theft, or suspicious activity on property. We need to build our Community Watch to help protect our fellow neighbors. Review CTC’s informational page for reporting criminal activity and local crime reports.

Join the progression of the surveillance discussion at our upcoming Board of Directors Meeting on October 23, 2019 - 6:30 pm in the Community Center Meeting Room.

CTC Crime Report

Crime statistics gathered internally by CTC Management since 2016

2019 to date:  2018 Totals: 2017 Totals: 2016 Totals:  totals by incident
Apartment break-ins 0 1 2 3+ ("multiple") 6
Vehicle stolen 1 0 2 1 4
Vehicle break-ins 3 6 3 2 14
Bike stolen 4 0 2 2+ ("multiple") 8
Other 1 1 4 0 6
Total by year 9 8 13 8 38