Improving KWU Campus Security
Written by Merissa Bailey Rios on January 29, 2024
By Merissa Bailey Rios
Chilling stories of an active shooter on college campuses fill headlines every week. With new technology emerging campus safety and security at Kansas Wesleyan University will majorly improve. Under the leadership of Director of Campus Security Bernie Botson, KWU is looking at AI—powered cameras, that identify threats before they strike, and learn and adapt to keep campus safer than ever. While speaking with the Director of Campus Security, Bernie Botson, and the Chief of Security on campus, Sam Hiechel, I got some insight into what the future of security at KWU will look like. The security team is looking into gun and gunshot detection cameras, as well as facial recognition cameras. The gun detection cameras can identify a gun if it is out in the open on campus. With gunshot detection, the software can determine the exact frequency of a gunshot and see the muzzle flash. These both will notify campus security and an on-duty officer. Kansas Wesleyan University is getting ahead of the curve by preparing the campus to be a safer place in any circumstance.
At KWU there are over 120 cameras, they are mostly cameras through AmCrest, however, they are slowly transitioning into the Verkada system. The Verkada system has a facial recognition system in place and notifies campus security of anyone who is trespassing, people who have trespassed in the past, or even just students out past curfew. The main goal is to have the Verkada cameras in entryways and hallways to identify anyone who shouldn’t be on campus. To implement the gun and gunshot detection software by fall they have spoken to 6 different companies, including Omnilert, ShotSpotter, and Amber Box. About two of these are software that focuses on gun detection, and the others focus on gunshot detection. Some of the companies they have spoken to have software that will learn daily from outside noise, Heichel stated “It learns what a gunshot actually is. Taking in all the false positives.” Getting to know the difference between a car backfire or a firework and determining a real gunshot.
Botson’s vision is to have the safest college campus KWU has ever seen, redefining campus security. With the use of technology, KWU has an advantage in achieving a safer environment by taking a proactive stance. With these cameras they will stand guard 24/7, anticipating risks before they happen. Botson and Heichel have struck luck with many software companies, some of which the campus will likely see in the coming fall. This technology is a defining tool leading Kansas Wesleyan University to a safer future.
“You can’t be everywhere all at the same time, but the cameras can. They never sleep.” – Bernie Botson