School Security: Cameras in elementary schools

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by Karen Hopkins, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 6:03 AM

NORFOLK - Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut,  elementary schools across the nation are arming buildings with security cameras.  Before that time, cameras were most often found at middle and high schools.

Parents want to know their children are safe at school, but a 13News investigation found many facilities in Hampton Roads are lacking some safety measures.

"I think all schools should have whatever is needed to make them safe," Suffolk assistant Superintendent Kevin Alston said.

Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton and Isle of Wight County school leaders confirm they have cameras in elementary schools, but they won't reveal the exact number of cameras in each building. 

Newport News, Portsmouth and York school officials stated some elementary schools have cameras and others do not.

There are no cameras in Suffolk elementary schools.

"We don't have cameras in the elementary schools at present; once again it comes down to funding," Alston remarked.

Suffolk schools has technology so police can monitor schools from outside the building.

Many school board members were not aware their schools did not have cameras. After our investigation, they're pressing to make changes.

“We are looking into putting security cameras into elementary schools. The first thing we will do is make sure every camera in our school system is operational. The next thing we will do is look into putting cameras into elementary schools,” said board member Mike Debranski.

Portsmouth School Board member Costella Williams says she will propose adding cameras to elementary schools at the board's retreat in July.

“Certainly I think we need cameras. You can never be too cautious when it comes to our kids,” Williams stated.

Cameras caught a student shooting inside Portsmouth's Woodrow Wilson high three years ago. However, school surveillance is not required under state law.

"I think schools need cameras, but I think it should be up to the local school board to do it. We've made it part of what we do in Chesapeake. We think it's very important," board member Harry Murphy said.

That security comes at a cost.  In a typical Suffolk middle school, there are 30 cameras conducting surveillance at a cost of at least $30,000. Most parents think it’s a good investment.

"I understand there are budget cuts, but I think security, especially for children, should be at the top of the list," mom Christine Blaine said.

 

If you would like to contact your school board members about installing cameras, here are the links. 

Newport News School Board
Portsmouth School Board
York County School Board
Suffolk School Board

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