SMU police officers and squad cars are now equipped with body and in-car cameras. The University’s Department of Public Safety began using the devices in November, according to Chief of Police Rick Shafer.
The University chose L-3 Mobile-Vision to provide both hardware and support for the cameras. The SMU Police Department had been “working on it for the past six months,” Shafer says – researching vendors, observing a deployed system in action, and surveying neighboring police departments.
University Park, Highland Park and Dallas all use the same system chosen by SMU, Shafer adds.
All 32 officers have their own individual body cams, and all 6 patrol cars have a dedicated in-car cam. The cameras do not record continuously, Shafer says: “It’s up to the officer’s discretion when to record confrontations.”
SMU Police Department supervisors are the only individuals who can retrieve video, image and other data from the cameras and servers, Chief Shafer says. The only legal way footage from these cameras can be released to any individual is through an approved Texas Public Information Act request.
Is there a real threat of Islamic terrorists crossing into the United States from Mexico? Is the Mexican justice system doing everything it can to curb drug cartel violence? And is America enabling U.S.-Mexico border problems by providing too many willing illegal drug buyers and too-easy access to assault weapons?
A noted panel of U.S.-Mexico border scholars will explore these issues Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 in “Barbed-Wire Art, Border Myths and Immigration Violence,” the third event in SMU’s interdisciplinary “Migration Matters” series. The discussion, free and open to the public, takes place 5:30–7:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.
Featured speakers include:
Maria Herrera-Sobek, professor of Chicana/o studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Josiah Heyman, anthropology professor at the University of Texas, El Paso
Roberto Villalon, sociology professor at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in New York.
The panel will examine how and why negative myths continue to circulate around immigration and the U.S-Mexico border despite reliable information proving them false, says “Migration Matters” coordinator Jayson Gonzales Sae-Saue, an English professor specializing in Chicano/a literature in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “The panel will also address how pictorial narrative is a powerful means by which artists have attempted to make visible the conditions that reductionist rhetoric and myths obscure,” he says.
UTEP professor Heyman proposes that people re-examine such images and stereotypes in two ways: “Where do they come from,” he asks, “and how do we achieve a more critical, complex understanding of them?”
The SMU Police Department has developed a new program that allows campus community members to report troubling activity and maintain their own privacy.
The University’s new Silent Witness Tips Line – 214-768-2TIP (2847) – allows individuals to leave information anonymously regarding suspicious or criminal activity on campus. Tipsters also have the option of sending an anonymous e-mail through the Silent Witness web form. Read more.
Richard Shafer, an SMU peace officer since 1999, has been named the University’s new chief of police. As acting chief since March 2007, he has focused on updating departmental policies and creating an enhanced campus emergency preparedness unit.
“We are proud to appoint Rick to this important role,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Campus security is vital to our academic mission and supportive campus environment. We have every confidence in Chief Shafer’s ability to lead as our chief of police.”
A 13-year veteran of university police leadership, Shafer also has worked with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and served for 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of major. He succeeds Mike Snellgrove, who resigned in March. Read more.