central washington university

Washington Governor Proposes Giving Millions To Central Washington University To Improve Security

The university realized that it needed new video security and lock systems last year after false reports of a shooting spread rapidly across campus.

After false reports of a February 2019 shooting prompted Central Washington University officials to identify security issues, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed giving the campus $3.28 million to upgrade its security systems last month.

The state legislature began a 60-day supplemental budget session on Jan. 13 to review Inslee’s proposals and submit their own budget versions. Part of those considerations is Inslee’s request that CWU receive millions to enhance its emergency phone system, installing electronic locking systems on buildings and installing a new campus-wide video security system.

In a December news release, the university said that its security needs were identified after a “ghost shooter” incident last year. False reports about shooters in multiple buildings were spread through social media and texts, and administrators realized that they lacked video security systems to verify the reports and had no way to automatically lock down 94 facilities across the campus.

“That experience revealed the urgent need to modernize facilities and systems that help keep people safe in the event of a real emergency,” Andreas Bohman, CWU’s vice president of operations, said in a statement. “We’re responsible for keeping thousands of students, employees, and guests safe across 3.2 million square feet of space and this funding will help us do that.”

Right now, the only part of campus that is covered by a video security system is the student union’s recreation center, according to the university. The school is seeking a new video monitoring system to provide more security in areas that are hard to patrol and monitor hazardous material storage and infrastructure issues.

“Had these cameras been in place during CWU’s ghost event, police would have been able to instantaneously check activity around buildings of concern,” CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch said in a statement. “As it was, we had to go to each building, instead of checking cameras on a laptop.”

The university has already taken some steps of its own, implementing new training exercises and expanding “online emergency and disaster preparedness for staff and faculty,” according to the news release.

Berthon-Koch told The Observer, the university’s student newspaper, that if the funding is approved, it will take about a year for officials to complete the security enhancement project.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.