Cameras Offer Police View into Schools

In Baltimore, the city launched a surveillance system to allow its police department live video feeds into the 107 elementary schools. Details of the system and its goal inside

What Happened?

Baltimore County recently invested $3.7 million in a camera system to help local police keep a closer eye on elementary schools. The county was able to fund $1 million of the total cost with revenue from speed cameras. The technology enables officers to access the security system cameras from computers and mobile devices for continual surveillance.

The Goal

In 2012, a student at Perry Hall High School was shot at and injured on the first day of school. In response, Baltimore County has launched its One View surveillance system that provides the Police Command Center and officers’ mobile devices to get live video feeds of camera footage from 107 local elementary schools. Each location has at least three security cameras, transmitting real-time surveillance to mobile devices, squad cars and the Police Command Center.

Officers can also pull up a floor plan of the school, switch between different camera views or watch several camera viewpoints consecutively on their selected devices. This enables officers to understand the layout of the school, where someone is walking and follow them in real time. Having continual access to surveillance is expected to accelerate response time in case of a suspicious person or other incident.

Not Just For Schools

Many cities are looking into increasing the use of surveillance cameras to reduce crime and increase safety. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, police are proposing changes to the local surveillance camera ordinance that only requires a few types of businesses to have cameras placed throughout the properties. The new ordinance would call for wider adoption of surveillance technology to aid law enforcement in catching criminals and preventing future violations made on business property.

Specifically, the new ordinance would require specific businesses to set up camera surveillance due to high incidence of theft or robbery, or because the products sold or information housed can be hazardous if stolen and resold unregulated. For example, cameras would be placed around:

  • Pharmacies
  • Firearms dealers
  • Mobile communications retailers
  • Pawn brokers
  • Banks
  • Credit Unions
  • Scrap metal dealers

The police would review local crime data, identify trends and strategically place cameras in areas of high incidence. The details of the ordinance would address where cameras would be allowed to be installed, how the footage could be used by law enforcement and even how many frames per second will be required when recording. If cameras are not left on 24/7, business owners may face a fine.

Not All Cameras Wanted

In Colorado, the Senate received a proposal to ban traffic cameras that generate automatic tickets for drivers who are caught speeding or running red lights. Bipartisan supporters of the legislation argue the traffic cameras only offer a city or county with another source of revenue, and actually fail to reduce traffic fatalities or increase safety.

Opposition to the proposal, however, argue that traffic cameras provide valuable information for law enforcement when investigating incidents of hit-and-run violations or other such crimes. In 2013, Denver collected $7.8 million on traffic violation tickets alone.

Cameras for Safety

Gov1 has reported on the many uses of city cameras to improve public safety including traffic surveillance and police support.

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