Renovated Campus Safety Headquarters relocating to off-campus

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Renovated Campus Safety Headquarters relocating to off-campus

The new Campus Safety headquarters on the corner of Van Vranken Avenue. Photo by Daniel Greenman.

The new Campus Safety headquarters on the corner of Van Vranken Avenue. Photo by Daniel Greenman.

The new Campus Safety headquarters on the corner of Van Vranken Avenue. Photo by Daniel Greenman.

The new Campus Safety headquarters on the corner of Van Vranken Avenue. Photo by Daniel Greenman.

Daniel Greenman, Contributing Writer

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The headquarters of Campus Safety (CS) is in the process of being relocated into a newly renovated building on the edge of the campus, at 645 Nott Street on the corner of Van Vranken Avenue. Previously, Campus Safety had its headquarters in College Park Hall (CPH) along with Facilities services. Before that, CS was centered in the basement of the Nott Memorial, according to Campus Safety Director Chris Hayen.

The new building has been christened the ‘Williams Center for Campus Community Safety’ This move was funded with help from Union College Trustee and Chief Executive Officer of the Williams Legacy Foundation Kelly Williams ’86.

Once the finishing touches have been made to the new headquarters, Campus Safety will have four wall monitors connected to cameras around campus. These cameras will be operable by joystick enabling the department to gain a fuller picture of potential situations school-wide. Campus Safety Assistant Director Thomas Constantine explained that the monitors will only normally be under live surveillance when an extra officer is present. The cameras are going to be used for a variety of situations, like seeing how full parking lots are at school events and being able to track a threat across campus and look back at week’s worth of footage if needed.

The force also can access Schenectady County cameras due to their relationship with local police department, thanks in part to Union alum and Schenectady Police Department (SPD) Captain Eric Clifford ’94. “Four Schenectady Police Officers will be helping out around the Williams Center on weekends,” Constantine said. Campus Safety will also share resources and sometimes works cases with the SPD.

Past the front desk, Constantine highlighted a difference from the CPH offices, with there being an interview room for people who come in to raise an issue. The room has been outfitted with a seating area, a range of snacks and fidget toys. “Now you see how small the [CPH] office was and how professional this is,” Constantine commented, comparing the two spaces.

Another Williams Center feature that the department is proud of is the conference room, where Campus Safety and local groups can meet. Groups that meet here are to include school management during emergencies, SPD and Schenectady’s Goose Hill neighborhood watch. The room has a flat screen and blinds to use depending on the meeting.

The building was formerly a Bank of America and as a result the force has repurposed the former vault as a storage room after making some needed changes to the use of the door.

Constantine says he “misses seeing students on a regular basis [like at CPH], but that [the force] spends more time on campus,” and that there is still a member at CPH’s front desk to maintain a presence.

Constantine recalled some changes in the immediate area around Williams Center when they moved. The sidewalk in front of the main entrance was redone and the convenience store across the street has “cleaned up its storefront a little.” Constantine also thinks that the crosswalk between the center and the edge of school across the street may be developed, partly as a result of the city’s focus on Nott Street and north of Union. Anyone from the school or a city resident can enter the main door from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when it’s unlocked and wait in the lobby to be addressed.

In the two months since the move, Constantine says the force has not seen an increase in negative incidents and that they’re always ready to do their work. “We have scanners. We’re always on top of it; it’s been safe to begin with.”