More than 3,000 cameras monitor the communities of all five Ohio State campuses, and the footage does not go unwatched.
Behind the scenes, alarm and video monitors within Ohio State’s Department of Public Safety use cameras located across campus to keep an eye on the community at all times. The employees monitor cameras across main campus and the four regional campuses of Ohio State, Richard Eader, an alarm and video monitor, said.
“We take what we do very seriously, and being able to help both the community at large and our police officers wherever there is an accident is incredibly important,” Eader said.
In the event of a criminal incident on campus, the alarm and video monitors allow University Police to see the event first, Eader said.
“When the community has an incident, the officers are going to try and get there as fast as they can, but we are going to be the first eyes on the scene,” Eader said. “We are relaying information to our dispatchers who, in turn, give it to the officers, and that helps them measure their response and find out exactly where this person is.”
Mohamad Hirsi, an alarm and video monitor, said that catching bike thieves is a big part of the job, but there are times when they call in a suspicious person for an officer to check on, and they later find out there was a warrant out for that person’s arrest.
Active monitoring of the cameras around campus begins when the sun goes down because crimes aren’t committed as often during the day as they are at night, Eader said. During the high-traffic period of 9-11 p.m., there are three people on shift monitoring the cameras.
Hirsi works the night shift at the office in Blankenship Hall and said he enjoys it more than the second shift from 3 to 11 p.m. because there is more activity. He also said crime is more prevalent in the summer compared with the winter, especially when it comes to bike thefts.
Hirsi said Kimberly Spears-McNatt, University Police chief, took notice of his work in October and came in during his shift to tell him to keep up the good work catching bike thieves before the actual crime has occurred.
“It was a normal day, and we just happened to notice a couple people at the bike rack looking around and looking suspicious, and we let the officers know, and they were able to catch them,” Hirsi said.
He and his co-worker Ahmed Awale pulled up the cameras after notifying dispatchers around the area and kept an eye on the suspicious people until the officers arrived in case the suspects tried to flee, Hirsi said. Hirsi said his adrenaline spiked when he saw three to four suspicious people loitering around a bike rack, touching the bikes and trying to cut the locks.
“I was nervous, anxious, and you don’t want to let them get away so you try and do the best you can until the officers get there,” Hirsi said.
He said catching people before they commit a crime happens a couple of times a month.
Eader said his favorite part of his job is helping police officers make the community safer.
“The best part of the job is just being able to help our officers and help our community by taking bad guys off the streets,” he said.