Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

USD 232 looking at cameras to boost security in high schools

September 20, 2007

School Resource Officers at De Soto and Mill Valley high schools are researching technology that would make their jobs somewhat easier.

The De Soto Board of Education last week gave the nod to allow the district to look into the cost and options available for security cameras in the high schools. No official vote was taken on putting security cameras in the schools.

Currently, there are no security cameras present in the district's schools or in its parking lots.

Deputy Eddie Blake, SRO at De Soto High, said right now the district was trying to get ideas of what it needed or what it could have covered. There is no timeline for when research will be complete or when it will be presented to the school board, he said.

The price for a nine-camera system starts at about $1,500 and increases from there based on the number of cameras and type of system, said Jack Deyoe, district director of operations and planning.

SRO John Midiros of Mill Valley High School said security cameras would be a proactive role in prevention.

"We feel that it would make our jobs easier as far as solving incidents while at the same time serve as a deterrent," he said.

However, Deyoe said security cameras would be just a small deterrent like lights are in a parking lot.

"Whereas the entryways and SROs provide security, cameras don't provide security," Deyoe said. "They give you data for evidence for after the fact."

Although other schools in the metropolitan area have cameras, including the Shawnee Mission School District, Deyoe said the De Soto School District hadn't had enough incidents in the past to warrant them.

"Incidences of vandalism are very low and the same thing is true with fights or batteries against other students," Deyoe said.

Deyoe said security cameras had been discussed in the past by the high school principals, but he said they were more concerned with having cameras in the parking lots than in the schools.

"As the schools get bigger and bigger and the cars are in the parking lots it gets more difficult for them to see what is going on out there," he said.

Midiro said there was an egging incident at Mill Valley that would have benefited from information security cameras could provide.

"We could have used those to get information on the car," Midiro said.

Cameras are needed inside the schools because of the increased crowded in hallways, Midiro said.

"Now you come into our schools and it's passing period and you can't always tell what's going on," he said. "You can't be at every place at the same time but the cameras can," Midiro said.

Cameras also would make it easier to find out the truth about some incidents, Midiro said.

"There are just little juvenile things that go on on a daily basis," he said. "There is nothing that tells the story like a camera, like the video."

Blake said he visited schools in Gardner and Spring Hill where cameras where installed to help some of his research and said he could see the benefits of having them in the De Soto district.

"I'm hoping it's going to be a good advantage for us," he said. "I don't know if we are going to catch up with the new wave, but it is going to help us be more where we need to be securitywise."

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