By Samuel Butterfass
CSB/SJU is watching out for you everywhere. New security cameras are now continuously recording all eight CSB/SJU Link buses.
Over the summer, CSB Transportation installed a new security camera system on the buses.
Four cameras now record every seat of each of the Link buses, everyone getting onto the bus, as well as the driver.
“They record in the morning as soon as we start at 6:30 a.m., and they end in the morning at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday,” said Mike Juntunen, CSB Transportation Director.
This is Juntunen’s 19th academic year working for CSB Transportation.
“I actually invented the bus schedule for the current five-day class schedule,” Juntunen said.
Juntunen pushed for the security cameras over the past year. He oversaw a trial run of the cameras. One camera was installed in one Link bus, and they noticed a dramatic drop in incidents.
“The incidents were not there, but they were still there on buses without the camera system,” Juntunen said.
Following the test run, CSB Transportation moved forward with a plan to install four security cameras in each of the eight Link buses this past summer.
Juntunen says the cameras have already helped.
“We’ve already noticed that if there’s a camera on the bus, incidents go down because the cameras are visible and the riders know that they’re there,” Juntunen said.
So far, Juntunen said, he’s only had to review one incident, and it was last year during the trial period.
Most of the Link bus incidents occur on nights and weekends, Juntunen said.
“It’s probably less than one percent of the student population that we have problems with, but when we do have those problems, we need to identify and take care of the problems.”
Darren Swanson, Director of Security at CSB, also weighed in on the new cameras.
“If the bus drivers see something they think that’s worth reviewing, they can push a button in the bus and it will time stamp it,” Swanson said.
This saves security time and resources when reviewing an incident, Swanson explained.
While Swanson believes that past student behavior on the buses warrants the installation of the cameras, their appearance has prompted some to wonder why they weren’t there before.
The appearance of the cameras may remind some students of the Link bus incident where a group of Johnnies chanted “build that wall” in video that went viral on social media last February.
“I want students or passengers to feel safe when they’re at the bus stop,” Juntunen said. “I want them to be able to get on the bus and not feel like they’re going to be harassed, and I want them to be able to enjoy the bus just like anybody else.”
It’s not just the students that Juntunen wants to help feel safer. The drivers of the buses expressed the need for better security measures.
“With things going on all over the world and around the country, the drivers are more concerned about the late night activity more than they ever were in the past,” Juntunen said.
Though Juntunen couldn’t point to one specific event that prompted the camera installation, he pinpointed one major problem that was putting pressure on them to implement more security measures.
“The security companies we hired didn’t want to come out here anymore,” Juntunen said. “They felt like they were disrespected… They felt like if something happened on the bus, they had no recourse because they couldn’t identify the problem.”
Juntunen thinks that they new cameras will help improve the relationship with the company providing security to the Link.
Juntunen said the issues occurring have also affected CSB Transportation’s ability to recruit and retain student drivers.
“Right now, our need is six student drivers to eight student drivers. We can’t get them,” Juntunen said.
Juntunen hopes that the new cameras will help student drivers feel more secure driving late in the evening.
“I want the student population that does not want to drive that bus late in the evenings because of problems that they’ve seen in the past with harassment, with singing and songs… to feel safe about being on that bus,” Juntunen said.
Swanson touched on other possible applications for the cameras as well.
“If somebody said that they left their backpack on the bus, we could try to find it,” Swanson said.
Swanson noted that most high school and public transportation buses are already equipped with similar surveillance equipment.
Feature photo by Samuel Butterfass • [email protected] • Students ride the Link buses between campuses everyday, and now those rides are monitored via security cameras, especially on the weekends and at night.