By Ryersonian Staff
It’s the first real day of spring — hello shorts, skirts and sunglasses. But that doesn’t matter to Charles Camato and Brant Bell. (The man are pictured in photo number 1, Bell to the left and Camato to the right.) They are the men in black, strictly suit-and-tie attire — and seriously out of place on Ryerson’s campus. The two men — security experts from Toronto’s Safe Tech Alarm Systems – agreed to walk around campus and give The Ryersonian their professional opinion on the strengths and flaws of Ryerson security.
“You need to have the ability to control and track a target (a person) from one place to another,”Bell said, while pushing the benefits of maintaining a “Big Brother” style of campus security. A watchful eye on campus can’t hurt — following several recent security issuse.
On March 15, a Ryerson teacher was assaulted in her own classroom. On March 13, an RTA student was the victim of an armed robbery in the lobby of the Rogers Communications Centre. While some might cite privacy concerns regarding closed circuit television (CCTV), the security experts say that cameras makes law enforcement easier.
1 - In the middle of the Pitman lawn stands one of Ryerson’s blue security poles. It serves a dualpurpose — to record those in the area with its rotating camera and to connect students indistress with security. Bell’s first concern was the cameras on Pitman lawn, which instead of scanning the area are stuck facing Church Street. Bell said the camera should rotate 360 degrees and record those coming and going from the buildings. The area appears under surveillance, but the grounds where many students return home late at night are unmonitored, according to the experts.
2 - The security experts were concerned with a ladder propped against the loading dock wall at Pitman Hall. This allowed easy access to Ryerson buildings through upper windows for criminals. Further investigation of this entrance showed that anyone off the street could walk into the open, unmanned garage door to the left. Ryersonian staff were led through the open door and into the cafeteria’s kitchen. Bell said:
“I could go in right now and poison all the food. Terrorism is a real threat nowadays and we have had examples of it in this city already.”
3 - Earlier this week, Ryersonian newspapers were stolen from newsstands throughout campus. Within minutes after this was reported, a Ryerson security guard arrived to take a statement. He said there is a camera in the RCC lobby, the very same lobby where an armed robbery took place earlier this month, but added, “The camera in there is pointing the wrong way.”
Last Friday, Camato said “With a fixed (position) camera, a person could walk right under it and not be seen.”
4 - O’Keefe Lane cuts through the western edge of campus off Gould Street, giving drug dealers and sex trade workers shelter from the city’s open spaces. “This is definitely a bad area,” Camato said. “Although, it’s certainly an improvement over what was at Dundas and Yonge 15 years ago.” A lone camera scans from high above on the library building. But Bell said it would be difficult for Ryerson to control the area, considering how many rear entrances there are to Yonge Street businesses.
5 - During our 90-minute walkabout we didn’t see a single security officer, but we did see the same EMS worker numerous times in different locations. Bell was very surprised to see an on-campus EMS officer equipped with a bullet proof vest, baton and handcuffs. “That’s quite unusual,” he said. “When was the last time you saw a paramedic with a baton?” Camato explained that it was possible that a Ryerson paramedic could be called out to attend to someone who could be under the influence of hard drugs and the paramedic “may have to protect himself.”
As for the lack of security, Bell said that no camera could ever substitute for manpower. Camato added that ultimately security on campus falls in the hands of students. “Students need to take care of each other, protect one another.” Ryerson security manager, Lawrence Robinson, has not responded to The Ryersonian’s request to comment on results of the security audit.