UH-Hilo security upgrades continue under new chief

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The University of Hawaii at Hilo Campus Security Department is in the midst of an overhaul following the hiring last year of its new director, Darrell D. Mayfield.

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The University of Hawaii at Hilo Campus Security Department is in the midst of an overhaul following the hiring last year of its new director, Darrell D. Mayfield.

In the coming months, the number of security cameras on campus will nearly double, Mayfield said, a new incident reporting and tracking software system will be set in place, and a new emergency operations center building is under construction.

Meanwhile, the state budget being debated in the Legislature includes a request for funding to support UH-Hilo manning its own security force, instead of contracting the work out to a private company, as it does now with G4S Secure Solutions USA.

Mayfield took over campus security in August after a period of about two years without a permanent director, he said. He formerly worked as the security manager and Clery Act compliance officer at Texas A&M University. While many of the changes underway were set in place before his arrival, Mayfield says he’ll have input on building the framework for a new department that will be primed to maintain the security of the campus, students, faculty and staff at UH-Hilo as it continues to grow.

Among the changes being implemented is a campuswide data network improvement project to support a new video surveillance system, as well as the addition of blue-light call stations. Totaling just more than $5 million, the project began in May and is expected to be complete at the end of next month.

“We’re in the process of upgrading our cameras and video surveillance system,” Mayfield said earlier this month. “There’ll be over 200 cameras on the campus after that. … We’ll have a room set up for two officers with video screens on the walls.”

Currently, there are less than 100 cameras covering the Hilo campus. The additional cameras won’t necessarily have a direct impact on the commissions of crime, but it will allow security officers to respond more quickly and accurately if they have more information, Mayfield said.

“Maybe once or twice a month we’ll have something where we’ll want to go back and look at some tape and see if we happened to catch something on there,” he said. “Video cameras aren’t going to stop crime, they only really benefit evidence after.”

The new cameras will be added to all external areas of the campus, including “parking lots, walkways, large gathering areas and that kind of thing,” he said.

Security officers also will be equipped with mobile devices that will allow them to report incidents in the field. The new computer and software systems will provide Mayfield and others detailed data analysis on crime statistics in real time, allowing them to send officers and resources to areas where they are needed most.

Tentatively set to be complete in October, construction continues on a $5.8 million Campus Security and Emergency Operations Center. An addition on the west side of the University Classroom Building, the site will serve as campus security’s new location, as well as two “flex space” emergency operations centers which will be able to accommodate various configurations in the event of emergencies.

The building also will have its own generator to keep computers and equipment operating in the event of a power outage, Mayfield said.

Campus security also has plans to make changes to its staffing.

Hilo is the last campus in the UH system to be using a private contractor to supply security, according to UH-Hilo University Relations Director Jerry Chang.

“We’re mandated to put on a force of state employees,” he said.

The deadline for the security force to switch to state employees is in October, Mayfield said, but UH-Hilo likely will have to extend its contract with G4S past that date until the school can find funding to staff its own security officers.

The state Legislature is discussing a request for $3 million in funding for the University of Hawaii System to upgrade its campus security, including the addition of 37 security staff for UH-Hilo.

“We have two plans on the table,” Mayfield said. “One is legislative, if we get the funding. The other plan is to put the contract out for bid again (for a private contractor).”

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Should the Legislature not approve funding for a new security force, the campus would have to file for a waiver until the new positions can be funded.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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