Temple creates security upgrade grant program

Landlords can be reimbursed for up to $2,500 if they show proof of purchase of security upgrades.

Students cross the street on the corner of 17th Street and Berks on April 11. Based on discussions with parents, Temple sees the west side of Broad Street, particularly 17th and 18th Streets, and Oxford Avenue as areas that need increased lighting and camera surveillance for safety. | NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Through discussions with parents, Temple University is identifying areas off-campus where lighting and security cameras are needed, like the west side of Broad Street including 17th and 18th Streets and Oxford Avenue.

Temple is incentivizing local landlords to install lights and cameras on their properties to deter crime near Main Campus, the university announced late last month, along with other campus safety initiatives. Landlords are working to find the optimal locations to install the safety equipment.

“A lot of the landlords, which I give them credit, they’re talking amongst themselves to even be strategic in how they do it,” said Charles Leone, executive director of Campus Safety Services. “They were talking about how we can do this on the block so that we get the best layer of lighting and that sort of thing.”

The university’s Security Upgrade Grant program will reimburse landlords up to $2,500 for installing the equipment, said Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer.

“We knew there was a need for more lighting in the neighborhood and more cameras, and it’s not something Temple can do, despite what parents believe,” Kaiser said. “We can’t go around putting lights and cameras on people’s homes and on public light stanchions. So we thought, ‘what’s a creative way to get more of that out in the community?’”

Landlords are eligible for the program if they are located in TUPD’s patrol zone, licensed with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections and have a landlord’s license. 

“All the landlords have to do is purchase the lights and have them installed,” Kaiser said. “They can purchase the cameras as well and send us the invoices. We do have the right to do a visual inspection to make sure they in fact put them up and then we will reimburse them up to $2,500.”

Currently, 120 landlords have inquired into the program’s process, but none have applied for the grant yet. 

Kaiser is concerned that landlords may submit false claims to receive reimbursement. To mitigate this, Temple will conduct random visual inspections and only accept recent receipts for purchased safety measures, Kaiser said.

Representatives from Temple Area Property Association, a Registered Community Organization near Main Campus, met with Leone and Campus Safety Services Community Liaison Eileen Bradley, on March 31 to discuss details of the program, said Nick Pizzola, a real estate property manager and the vice president of TAPA. 

TAPA landlords support the program and are working with the university to implement safety measures in the community, Pizzola said. Temple asked landlords for their recommendations  on different types of security cameras as they work to find the most cost-effective and efficient option. 

“It’s not just students, it’s anyone who would have any kind of confrontation with a violator,” Pizzola said.

The program will run into the summer and next academic year if landlords utilize the program, Kaiser said.

After looking at campus safety and crime data from the last several years, it is evident that well-lit and camera-heavy areas experience less criminal activity because it mitigates anonymity during crime, Leone said. 

Developments that received new lights, in a 2019 University of Chicago Urban Labs study, experienced lower crime rates. Security cameras can typically help reduce burglary, according to ADT, a security company. 

“It’s always been an industry standard that lighting is a huge deterrent, and I stake my reputation on it that lighting is a great deterrent for criminal activity,” Leone said.

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