UNIVERSITY PARK — To Penn State officials, security cameras are vital during football games, when State College becomes the third-largest city in Pennsylvania.
“Stadium cameras? They’re everywhere, because the whole building is a public building,” said Scotty Eble, Penn State’s director of physical security.
There are approximately 63 cameras at Beaver Stadium, but that number is constantly changing, Eble said.
While cameras watch the 100,000 or so people often packed into the stadium, cameras also monitor what happens outside the stadium to make sure people who are tailgating are safe, he said.
“Obviously, we do a lot more in the name of security at football games than folks probably think,” he said.
“The folks there are trying to make sure everybody’s safe, and if we see some items that might be suspicious, we can basically take the camera and look back within seconds.
“There’s been a lot of false alarms, but nothing’s been a concrete threat,” Eble said.
There are cameras at the check-in desks of the university’s athletic facilities, and cameras are dispersed throughout the venues.
Pegula Ice Arena and the Bryce Jordan Center have about 32 cameras each.
“They allow the university police to know where problems might be,” said Paul Ruskin, business operations coordinator at the Office of Physical Plant.
“If they get a phone call saying that there is a problem at Gate D, they can check on that immediately through the use of cameras. It takes a while to dispatch somebody, so cameras act as a force multiplier,” he said.
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is not a Penn State-managed structure. Jason Dambach, general manager of the State College Spikes minor league baseball team, said that the ballpark is watched by cameras mounted across the street at the football stadium.
“We’re looking for the big stuff and the little stuff,” Eble said.
The cameras are monitored at university police headquarters but are not usually tracked live. Instead, monitoring is done by computer programs, which record and store the information for a minimum of 30 days.
However, when police get a report that something suspicious is occurring, such as a fight, they can focus cameras on what they need to see.
During events, cameras are constantly recording because of the constant movement of fans in the venues.
Bill DiFilippo is a Penn State journalism student.