Building locks to be replaced

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The Physical Plant Management Department at CSUN is taking steps to tighten campus security for buildings and keep locked buildings limited to authorized personnel only.

PPM is looking to implement new locking devices, which would require both a keycard and password to unlock, said Tom Brown, PPM director.

The system would also feature technology that keeps a record of the cards’ usage history, which would be uploaded into a computer system with each swipe to monitor building access activity.

Certain buildings would also implement automated lock and unlock security systems. Older style locking devices, requiring codes but not keycards, are already installed in some areas, but would be replaced by newer, more secure digital models, said Lynn Wiegers, PPM associate director.

“It’s a big job,” Brown said. “The material, the labor, the wiring. It’ll probably take anywhere from five to 10 years (to complete).”

The plan is to have one of the new security systems installed on the main entrance to every building on campus, Wiegers said.

The changes are partly in response to a problem with campus state keys, which are keys used to lock and unlock buildings and rooms on campus, officials said.

Individuals unauthorized to have state keys somehow got copies of the keys, which gave them access to certain campus buildings. The keys may have been passed down from previous CSUN students who were originally issued the keys, but never returned them, said Lt. Scott VanScoy of campus police.

The problem reached its apex in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake, when many keys were given to construction workers, but has since been improved by replacing several locks, VanScoy said.

The combination of using a code and a card, corresponding to only one particular person, is expected to do away with the problem of unauthorized individuals accessing locked buildings and rooms.

“The odds of someone (giving their card and key to someone else) is remote,” Wiegers said.

Another problem with the keys is that they can be duplicated, and there have been some reported cases of duplicated state keys, even though every state key has an engraved warning on it, making it clear that reproduction is illegal.

“It’s not just a warning, it’s a state code,” Brown said.

Every person who’s given a key has to go through an approval process, which includes getting approved by Brown and the chief of police. Some students, mainly those who work on campus or work closely with professors, may be given state keys, which give approved students access to a single room. Master state keys, however, can give access to many rooms.

Fifteen years ago, a set of master keys to the Sierra Tower came up missing, Brown said. This required the entire building to be re-keyed, costing $40,000. Prices for re-keying have increased since then. It is not financially practical to change locks every time one key comes up missing or duplicated.

The most difficult building to manage has proven to be the Kinesiology building, Brown said. Instructors, students, athletes, intramurals, PPM workers and people who want to use gym facilities go in and out of the building, making accessibility and its regulation difficult, Brown said.

Kinesiology is one of the buildings in the university that require a password to gain access. When the new security system is implemented, a security card will also be required to gain entry when the building is closed.