Wednesday, June 8, 2011

California City to Link School Security Cameras with City Systems

school security camerasPolice and school officials in Pittsburg, California are planning on linking cameras at the city's new year-old high school to a citywide security system that has already been credited with assisting in helping solve crimes. This new move will help police officers investigate any crimes that may occur at the school which houses 2,500 students. It may also help officers respond to disturbances at the school more quickly.

According to police Captain Brian Addington, the intention of the cameras is not "to actively monitor the kids. If there are any issues at the high school, we can have access to the cameras quickly so we can respond to any emergency there." One police officer is assigned to the campus full time while another is assigned to Pittsburg's two junior high schools.

The city has spent a total of $1.5 million to install 80 cameras at different strategic points in the city since 2005. Images from these cameras are stored on computer hard drives at the police department for up to three weeks which gives officers enough time to review them if a crime is reported near a camera location. The police department has used the cameras to corroborate information from witnesses and victims to solve more than 100 crimes.

According to Addington, "In one case, there was an attempted murder in which the suspect was seen riding a bicycle to and from the crime scene and was identified and convicted based on the taped evidence."Todd Whitmire, principal of the school, has said that no significant incidents have taken place in the new campus' first year but welcomed the link stating that it will "supplement what administrators and teachers are doing to keep the campus safe."

100 cameras are located in the courtyard, halls and stairwells of the campus allowing Whitmire and other administrators to view the images on their laptops. Unfortunately, the cameras have been unable to help with the biggest new problem at the school, graffiti and vandalism in the school's bathrooms. "If there is vandalism and graffiti, typically it happens in the bathrooms where cameras are not allowed," Whitmire stated.

The citywide system has been funded primarily by developer fees, homeland security grants and redevelopment funds. In addition to the cameras, the city will also pay around $40,000 for software in order to establish the link and will also pay for upkeep and maintenance of the system, Whitmire stated.

Source: Mercury News - Pittsburg to link city, high school security camera systems

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