Officials consider cameras

University Police and the Music Department agree on a plan to heighten security in the Academic Center basement, where more than $20,000 in student instruments have been stolen since January.

While administrators said no plan has been finalized, Associate Vice President for Academic Planning Craig Linebaugh said “cost is not an issue” in the decision.

UPD’s plan includes installing cameras and GWorld card readers.

“I am very pleased with this plan,” Music Department Chair Laura Youens said. “I would like to see it implemented immediately.”

University Police Department Director Dolores Stafford said she recommended installing cameras and GWorld card readers that could restrict access to the basement of the Academic Center to students taking music classes. Stafford estimated it would cost $50,000 to install cameras.

“The Music Department or someone above them will have to find a way of funding it,” Stafford said. “There is no money in the UPD budget to add security equipment. Funding determines when this goes into effect.”

Linebaugh said he hopes to have new measures in place by fall.

Student desk employees on the first floor of the Academic Center currently check for GWorld cards before allowing access to the department after 11 p.m. weekdays and throughout the weekend. Stafford said the students will still man the desk next year.

Stafford said the cameras would record activity all day and would be checked daily. She said the GWorld card readers would not be turned on 24 hours a day, and their hours of operation will be determined by the Music Department.

“I think these improvements will deter people and stop theft,” Youens said.

Linebaugh said GW may also consolidate the instrument storage area. Instrument lockers are currently located in several different hallways in the basement of the Academic Center.

“We want to keep (lockers) close to where the practice rooms are,” he said. “We are looking at every option.”

Linebaugh said UPD will determine the effectiveness of the cameras. He called the plan a “joint decision,” saying he will consult Risk Management, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office and a “security expert.”

“This is the first time we have had this kind of problem in an academic department,” Linebaugh said. “My role is largely that of a facilitator . we want to do the best we can.”

Security cameras are already used in the other campus areas that have lockers, such as the Marvin Center and Ross Hall.

Stafford said UPD is currently working with the Montgomery County Police Pawn Unit, which identifies stolen instruments if they are pawned, to investigate the missing instruments.

“We’re working with them to see if our instruments show up,” she said. “They’ve caught thefts at the University of Maryland, and it could be the same person.”

She said there is now one suspect in the investigation but would not specify the suspect’s age or relation to GW.

She said Risk Management is now working with students to coordinate compensation for theft not covered by personal insurance.

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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