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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The UF campus is about to get even safer with additional security equipment and resources.

A plan to improve UF’s campus safety will cost the university about $30 million over the next five years, Vice President for Business Affairs Curtis Reynolds wrote in an email. The plan aims to improve UF campus safety with new equipment and safer access to buildings, with funds divided by capital projects, staffing and a facility renovation.

“UF’s desire is to ensure a safe campus environment,” Reynolds said.

The plan will add more than 1,700 surveillance cameras on campus, as well as license plate readers located at about 20 campus entry locations, Reynolds said.

University Police Lt. Kristy Sasser said this plan is being implemented due to the growing population of students and faculty rather than trending criminal incidences.

“I think it's more of a general look at what we can expect moving forward with the changes in numbers for population and taking a look at how we can best serve our community,” Sasser said. “And what financially that will take as far as police officers and our resources.”

Campus security will maintain the cameras and staff will be added as needed, Reynolds said.

The campus has more than 1,500 street lights, and there are 900 surveillance cameras currently in use, Reynolds said. UF’s Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol services, a free transportation service offered to students at night to ensure safety, expanded in 2016 by adding three vans, now totaling eight.

There are currently 2,400 access control card readers on 116 buildings on campus, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the university is implementing this plan to ensure students, as well as faculty, staff and visitors, can move safely after dark.

In addition to these resources, UF will construct a new $20 million UPD facility, separate from the spending of the safety plan, Reynolds said. UPD is currently stationed in a building constructed in the late 1920s as a radio station.

The new police facility is not part of the campus safety spending plan, but will enhance campus safety, Reynolds said.

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 Twenty-two-year-old UF law student Sarah Elzawahry is on campus during late hours almost every night and said campus safety could be improved in outdoor and open areas on campus.

“I think the parking lots could have more light,” Elzawahry said. “I call my mom every time I walk to the parking lot at night. I really appreciate that you have to use a student ID card to get in to facilities like the libraries.”

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