Public Schools Upgrade Surveillance in Wake of Shootings

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In light of increased concerns over school shootings and other risks to student safety, public schools are embracing security cameras within their buildings. Most of the cameras are deployed through government grant money, which has been boosted in response to the rise in crimes.

Public school districts in Washington D.C have installed over 30,000 surveillance cameras, with at least 1.300 being purchased and set up in recent months. The cameras provide footage which aid in solving misdeeds and security breaches within the buildings.

With recent technology making it easier and cost effective to monitor schools, old surveillance cameras which could only provide one way views have been switched with harder to detect multi- angle viewing ones.

However, the boost in the number of cameras has made it burdensome for security staff to regularly monitor video footages. Most of the surveillance systems, such as those of Prince George’s County Public Schools, are dually connected to the school and central security offices and allow viewing by both.

Montgomery County Public Schools utilize a central hub to monitor their cameras’ images. The security interface is very user friendly and allows a consistent access to various camera footage. All the schools in the D.C area share their surveillance feed with the Metropolitan Police Department, writes Scott McFarlane of NBC Washington.

Security officers in the Des Moines School District gain access to a large video network that is connected to all 58 schools and 700 cameras recording within the district, writes Mark Tauscheck of KCCI News.

School buses in Wyoming County, West Virginia have also taken up the security trend, and have geared their transportation with state of the art exterior and interior cameras. The interior cameras can view activity going on in every seat, and can capture audio as well.

Superintendent of Schools Frank Blackwell explained the purpose of the system.

“All we want is good conduct on all of our buses by all of our students. If anybody does something, it’s going to be on that camera. If someone uses improper language, it picks up on that as well. Bad language and bad conduct, we can see all of those things. Everyone needs to know that they’re on the buses now and operating well. If there’s an altercation, we can go straight to the video and see what happened.”

The exterior cameras produce high definition images which can recognize the license plate numbers of any vehicles that illegally overtake the bus. The feed is then delivered to law enforcement.

The Fayette County Board of Education in Georgia is currently assessing the details of a pilot program named SAFE to outfit its elementary, middle and high school with a video and audio monitoring system. The teacher controlled system allows the instructor to video record classroom lessons for later reflection and improvement, as well as provides a panic button which the teacher can press to obtain a quick response to any classroom emergency.

Aspen Hill resident Jamison Adcock, however feels school districts must not become overly dependent on camera surveillance systems.

“I don’t think it’s going to prevent things. We’d like to have people watching the cameras or on the ground (in the buildings).”

Loudon County Public Schools have taken extra measures; deploying police and school resource offices inside their buildings, according to Loudon spokesman Wayde Byard.

“Loudoun County Public Schools have a strong partnership with all law enforcement partners and encourage their presence in and around the school environment.”