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Baltimore County Ramps Up Security at Elementary Schools

Cameras and ID verification systems were part of the $3.7 million project, Baltimore County reported.

Superintendent Dallas Dance and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz look at live video feeds from Baltimore County elementary schools. (Credit: Baltimore County Government)
Superintendent Dallas Dance and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz look at live video feeds from Baltimore County elementary schools. (Credit: Baltimore County Government)
In response to violence at schools nationwide—including shootings at Perry Hall High School and in Newtown, CT—officials in Baltimore County rolled out an initiative Tuesday they say will make elementary schools more secure.

The $3.7 million project includes cameras, door locks, card readers and a central ID checking application at each of the county's 107 elementary schools, according to a statement from Baltimore County.

"We are using the latest technology along with an integrated, collaborative approach to help ensure our children's safety in school," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at a press conference Tuesday at the Baltimore County Police Command and Control Center.

Three strategically placed security cameras have been placed at every elementary school, according to the statement from Baltimore County.

Using the new cameras, police officers will be able to view school floor plans and real-time footage anywhere they have secure network access—from schools, patrol cars, precincts and on their mobile devices—the statement said.

Officers will be able to watch up to six cameras on a single device so they can see people from the time they enter a school to the time they get to the office, according to county officials. Tech company OneView customized the camera system in partnership with the Baltimore County Office of Information Technology, officials said.

At the press conference, a Baltimore County police officer demonstrated how police could simultaneously view live feeds from Riverview Elementary School in Halethorpe and Scotts Branch Elementary School in Randallstown.

"While there is no crime-fighting tool as valuable as a good police officer or detective," Police Chief Jim Johnson said, "modern police agencies know that they have to invest in the right technologies."

Baltimore County funded $2.7 million of the cost, while collections from speed cameras provided the remaining $1 million, according to the county. 

Kamenetz and Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance first announced the elementary school security initiative in early 2013. Their proposal came months after 15-year-old Robert Gladden Jr. shot and wounded 17-year-old Daniel Borowy in the Perry Hall High School cafeteria on the first day of class in August 2012.

"School safety has been a top priority for me since my first day as superintendent..." Dance said Tuesday in a prepared statement. His first day of school as superintendent coincided with the Perry Hall High School shooting.

A potential second phase of the project includes retrofitting existing cameras in middle and high schools and adding more data points to the application for officers, like traffic cameras, the county reported.

Middle and high schools already have surveillance systems installed, ABC 2 News reported.

See photos from Tuesday's press conference on Baltimore County Government's Flickr feed.
runymede March 26, 2014 at 07:55 AM
This is an initiative for money to be well worth to spend. I am all for it and I am sure that most adults agrees. In today's society, it is such a shame that we must resort to provide this type of security for the kids. In my days as a student, my biggest fear was kneeling beneath my desk during air raid drills in the 1950's. I could not fully understand as to why we had these drills. It was frightening. Once again, this new initiative to provide security for the kids is well worth the money to be spent.
Tina Kerr March 26, 2014 at 09:00 AM
I am so glad to see our tax dollars going towards something useful. I love knowing that our youth will be protected
Buck Harmon March 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM
Ahh yes...the subtle settling of the encroaching police state...a few incidents get sensationalized by the media and government excuse to over react will always be obliged.. You are actually admitting that things are as bad as the cold war days..
Dennis Gilpin March 27, 2014 at 02:02 PM
This technology serves several purposes. One, it identifies the people coming on school property and second it alerts the police officers to a possible incident. A very good investment.


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