Liebowitz announces increase in surveillance, police presence
In an email to the community, Liebowitz said the changes were in response to a number of recent acts of anti-Semitism in the news.
After denouncing recent “violence towards members of the Jewish community” in an email to the Brandeis community on Jan. 3, University President Ron Liebowitz shared that there would be an increase in police presence and surveillance on campus.
In the email, Liebowitz condemned the recent acts of anti-Semitic violence in New York and New Jersey as “painful to the Brandeis community,” and an “affront to the values at the core of our institution.”
Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said in a Jan. 19 email to the Justice that the decision was made after “reviewing the findings of the campus security report.” He also mentioned that one of the goals of the upgrade was to return to staffing levels that existed pre-2008/2009.
Liebowitz wrote in his email that Brandeis was searching for a night lieutenant and an additional daytime Public Safety officer. Campus transportation systems will also be expanded, and the University will be upgrading camera technology, the email said. Liebowitz also stressed the importance of students reaching out to resources, such as the Brandeis Counseling Center, for support.
Callahan said the daytime patrol officer position had been filled and is currently undergoing training, and the University is still searching to fill the night lieutenant position. He explained to the Justice that the addition of these roles will provide “additional services and enhance Community Policing efforts.”
To further explain what Liebowitz meant by the “expansion of campus transportation services,” Callahan provided a list to the Justice of the updates Public Safety made to the transportation service. The list included trackers in all eight Joseph’s shuttles, an extension of the last loop of the BranVan Waltham service to 2:15 a.m., and the addition of a Monday-Friday 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Waltham Joseph’s shuttle. Callahan pointed out that many of these updates started in the fall semester, but take some time to be fully implemented. He said these changes “address most, if not all, concerns students have had regarding the service.”
Callahan advised students to download the Branda mobile app and reserve BranVan seats on the Brandeis website to make the most of the transportation.
Brandeis, however, is not the only university upgrading its security amidst the rise of hate crimes. According to a Dec. 4 USA Today article, security patrols and cameras were increased at Syracuse University after an active investigation uncovered racist and anti-Semitic incidents on campus.
According to an Apr. 30 Boston Globe article, in 2018, Massachusetts ranked fourth in the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, while 1,879 incidents of anti-Semitism were recorded in the United States.
Institutions like day schools, synagogues and Chabad centers across the country have not only begun to increase security, but have also applied for grants to help fund these changes, according to a Mass Live article. The Department of Homeland Security runs the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides funding for target hardening and physical security for “organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack.” The program provides both state and federal funding, and in Massachusetts, institutions can apply for a Commonwealth Nonprofit Security Grant.
Callahan mentioned that Brandeis is currently working on applying for a security upgrade grant.
According to an Aug. 18 Boston Globe article, 88% of such grant applications in the previous fiscal year came from Jewish organizations. A Jan. 10 Jewish News Syndicate article pointed out that following attacks like the shooting in Jersey City, security experts are pushing to increase funding for non-profit religious institutions.
Callahan said that students “should feel safe in their surroundings and should continue to advise how we may better serve them along the lines of personal safety.”
Brandeis Bridges, a club where members of the Black and Jewish communities come together to discuss race and religion on campus did not respond in time to provide a student perspective on the increase in security.
Since his arrival in 1978, Callahan explained, the increase in the campus population has led to a more robustly-trained and educated police department. “Communication, cooperation, and connectivity are essential in providing security to the campus community,” he said. “Officers are trained to mitigate a variety of concerns,” he added.