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Section Header
New union has tighter security

Photo
WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Balenzuela, criminal justice junior and UofA BookStore employee, demonstrates the new keyless access locks in place at the main bookstore inside the Student Union Memorial Center.
By Bob Purvis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 4, 2003

Whether students swipe their CatCard through a keyless entry to enter the Student Union Memorial Center after hours or buy a slice of pizza in the food court, they are being watched.

A $260,000 high-tech security system, which includes a dozen closed -circuit cameras, protects the new 405,000-square-foot union, giving union officials a dozen extra eyes to monitor who does what and when.

"What we have tried to do is secure the perimeter," said Dennis Peloquin, Amer-X Security Inc. president, "We have a comprehensive track of who's coming in and out of the building."

Amer-X, the new student union's security provider, ensures that people who enter the building before business hours or attempt to gain access to restricted areas within the union are logged by swiping their CatCard at a keyless entry point.

The personally encoded CatCards not only keep tabs on who is coming and going, but they also allow union management to limit and allow access as they see fit.

Colleen Morgan, coordinator of the keyless access system, said that the old union posed many security concerns because there were so many people with keys and access was not logged.

Morgan said that timed entry periods and limiting access to cash deposit areas benefits the businesses in the new union.

"It really helps the union manage its building more efficiently," Morgan said.

From a central monitoring station in Scottsdale, security personnel can remotely dictate when magnetically sealed doors, known as Mag-locks, open and close.

The 1800-pound per square-inch Mag-locks are just the first deterrent to would-be criminals.

Motion detectors and electronic locks which signal perimeter instantly send an alarm signal to UAPD, pinpointing the location of the motion or break-in.

Closed circuit television cameras digitally log high-risk areas where money is exchanged and offer a visual record of potential robberies or forced entry.

Amer-X said it took privacy issues into consideration when installing the cameras and intentionally left cameras out of meeting places and made them visible to the public.

"We are not just looking for stuff in general," Peloquin said, "It's not some big brother thing, it's specific."

The UofA BookStore has an additional camera system but also refused to use hidden cameras.

The bookstore doubled the number of cameras in the new building from 18 to 36.

"They give us complete coverage of the building," said Frank Farias, director of the bookstore.

Farias said that cameras allow union security personnel to identify chronic shoplifters and aid in their subsequent prosecution.

"We are baffled by students that choose to steal when they know we have cameras," Farias said, "Typically what we are experiencing is that they come back for a second time, and then we have identification and we can catch them."

The bookstore uses plainclothes security as well as the cameras to combat shoplifting. Shoplifting losses amount to roughly .05 percent of store sales annually as much as $105,000. Police say that cameras in the bookstore catch about two shoplifters per week, but they questioned the new system's worth.

"Any security system is a deterrent, but it's only as good as the person trying to defeat it," said UAPD Cmdr. Kevin Haywood."


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