The Academy of Art University in San Francisco has evolved from a loft studio for a handful of students in 1929 to become the country’s largest private school for art and design. The family-run institution understands that parents want to be assured that their children are in a safe and secure environment. AAU leaders speak to the parents and students about safety in an urban campus environment, where they have access to the design, graphic, Web, photographic, architectural and environmental beauty of San Francisco.
While the campus itself is a closed environment, the academy nurtures an interactive relationship with the surrounding community. Today, more than 17,000 students call the academy home, a place where they can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and participate in certificate programs or continuing art education courses with more than 30 areas of academic emphasis. Similar to their counterparts of yesteryear, students today have access control throughout all the facilities, where there are state-of the-art design facilities, galleries and collections. Roving patrols that provide security are as much a part of the academy’s philosophy as its commitment to being “student-centric,” meaning staff members will do what they need to do to benefit the students. On a day-to-day basis, the academy’s security team makes the decisions that will affect positive outcomes for student security. This includes video surveillance, campus safety hosts at buildings and desk guards in buildings where students must be buzzed-in to enter. “Video cameras are our best crime-fighting tool,” said Mike Patricca, head of AAU security. “Video has solved the majority of problems with teams of thieves stealing projectors and students’ computers. Because AAU has deployed such an extensive camera and software system, San Francisco police officers have come to rely on the academy’s video of the perimeter and the properties the academy uses. In one instance, a couple on vacation were walking on an adjacent property, and the woman was shot and killed. An important part of the incident was captured by campus video surveillance, and the video assisted San Francisco police in prosecuting the killers. Read the rest of the story here.