Amherst Magazine

Office Space - Campus Police Dispatch

There are no large, blinking buttons, War Games-style projection maps, or even a red phone...but there are some excellent delivery food menus and instant access to state-wide criminal databases. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the office controls everything from the electronic door locks to vehicle reservations and all emergency responses.

Note: You'll notice there are no detailed shots of any items in this office. This was done to make sure no sensitive information on computer screens, police logs, or the infamous "boot list" (see below) was visible.

Object 1Door Access

This terminal controls the electronic lock systems on campus. Besides monitoring the comings and goings of campus life, the dispatcher can issue temporary IDs or remotely unlock a door when necessary.
Object 2

Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) Terminal

The DCJIS system gives campus police instantaneous access to statewide databases. If an officer encounters a suspicious vehicle on campus, the dispatcher can run the license plate numbers and identify the registered owner. The system also allows the department to look up any warrants.

Object 3


The campus police business and emergency lines, along with the campus radio system, are recorded and stored on this system.

Object 4

Emergency Notification System

The college's emergency notification system is run through this computer. Dispatch receives information from building generators, system maintenance alarms, smoke detectors (popcorn is a usual suspect in this office) and all other emergency devices on the campus' fiber optic network. All three campus museums have intrusion alarm systems that report here, and alerts are instantly printed out and stored in a database. The college can also activate its emergency notification system through this terminal, instantly sending out SMS text updates, recorded phone calls, and, if necessary, activating the emergency horns across campus.

Object 5

Directory Assistance

The campus dispatcher also serves as the college operator, answering the general information line at 542-2000. This terminal allows the operator to look up all relevant contact information for students, faculty and staff. This line is not recorded.

Object 6

From left to right are the radio dispatch systems for the police and ACEMS (Amherst College Emergency Medical Services), campus maintenance, and the main police line. At the top left, beneath the monitors, is a direct hotline to the town of Amherst's fire and police dispatch.

Object 7

Security Cameras

Campus Police operate four security cameras–three in parking lots and one at the Route 9/train bridge underpass–via these monitors. Recordings are kept for several days in case review is necessary.

Object 8


This scanner monitors local police and fire radio frequencies.

Object 9

Rosters and Clipboards

These clipboards hold everything from the day's rosters to recent police logs. Since campus police also monitors parking violations on campus, one of the clipboards is a particularly nasty one to land on - the boot list.

Object 10

Procedural Manuals

Behind the dispatcher on duty are manuals for environmental safety procedures, emergency response plans, standing orders for different situations, key log books, and, because it's a 24-hour operation, local delivery menus.

Object 11


The entire campus can be locked or unlocked with what's in this box. Campus Police also oversees the reservations and use of the pool vehicles - twelve cars and vans loaned out to students by the Center for Community Engagement and the student government. We did not ask where the key to this box is kept, and have a feeling we wouldn't have been told anyways.