High School Expands Surveillance Camera Network

canon-vbc300-250 Image Source: Canon[/caption]   “You can cover a lot of ground with these things,” he said of Greenwich High School’s new outdoor surveillance cameras. “It’s impossible to be omnipresent” on a 58-acre campus, he added, “but this gives you a pretty good sense of what’s going on.” Dozens of indoor security cameras were installed throughout the high school last school year, as part of a closed-circuit television network designed to monitor bad behavior, prevent theft and deter trespassers. Now, Bobkowski is overseeing an expansion of these monitoring capabilities that will extend outside – in parking lots, athletic fields, walkways, foyers and roadways – as part of the third and final phase of a half-million-dollar facilities project. Security cameras were first installed in the student center, media center and hallways in the first phase of the project in 2007-08, with additional cameras set up to monitor the school’s entrances for the second phase in summer 2008. The latest expansion of the camera network to the athletic fields and all parking lots will cost about $210,000 in the 2009-10 Capital Improvement Plan, which the Board of Education approved Thursday. The outdoor cameras, some of which are already operational, record in color and can store digital footage for later viewing. During the day, security staff can use a computer to tilt, pan and zoom. After hours, they can be set to be activated by motion or changes in light, Bobkowski said. School administrators say the expanded camera network will allow security staff to bolster safety at the high school while better monitoring infractions that take place outdoors, such as smoking and vandalism. They will also be better equipped to mediate disputes and investigate disciplinary infractions that occur beyond the watchful eyes of security staff and the school resource officer, said GHS Headmaster Al Capasso. Already this year, school administrators have been able to review footage gathered by the outdoor cameras to set the record straight on a minor physical altercation in which two students’ account of the incident differed considerably. Instead of relying on witness accounts, Capasso said, the security staff and school administrators simply reviewed the security tapes and determined that one of the student’s stories had been exaggerated. [caption id="attachment_527" align="alignright" width="302"]canon-vbc50fi_586x225 Image Source: Canon[/caption] “The camera has no perceptual bias, no attitude,” Bobkowski said. “Just a clear picture of what happened.” While some critics have raised concerns about privacy issues posed by the presence of more cameras, Capasso said the school will use the cameras primarily to review footage after specific incidents – not to conduct regular surveillance of the students. “We don’t sit there and watch these non-stop,” he said. “We don’t want to give the impression that this is Big Brother, because it’s not,” Capasso said. “It’s just way to see what we’ve missed, and keep the school safe.” Gustafson, Colin. (2008, Oct 27) No hiding from Greenwich High School Cameras: Security has a bird’s-eye view of school grounds outside. GreenwichTime.com. Retrieved on October 27, 2008 from http://www.greenwichtime.com/ci_10827157]]>