Baltimore Co. Schools to increase security; more cameras at schools
6:26 PM, Jan 29, 2013
TOWSON, Md - Every high school and middle school in Baltimore County has a school resource officer inside.
But not at every elementary school, which relies on cameras and a door security system to allow people to come inside.
The county says that's going to change.
"This is the right time again to take a fresh new look at the issue what else can we do what is reasonable." County Police Chief Jim Johnson says.
What's changing is the approach to security.
There will not be a police officer in every school.
But there will be more cameras; every elementary school and special education school will get cameras that will stream live into police cars, the school's precinct and into county police headquarters.
There will also be new controlled entry systems installed on every door along with a a state of the art visitor id system.
"As school superintendent we take it as a two pronged approach we clearly need to make sure there are measures in place to be reactive when we need to be reactive and we also need to have the conversation about being proactive with our kids took that means we need to have systems in place to make sure that we can detect incidents before they even happen." School Superintendent Dallas Dance says.
Reasonable measures that the county says should help protect children in the one place where they should always be safe.
Many parents welcome the new measures.
They didn't like the idea of having an armed officer in every school but do like the thought that there are more eyes watching.
"I think it's a great idea what happened up north could happen anywhere at any time and we need to protect our children as much as possible." Parent Debbie Bowman says.
"I think any steps toward security and safety is a good idea they should have a closed gate system where parents have to sign in and everyone is monitored and everyone is accounted for." Parent Louise Sparshatt says.
Other parents say cameras are fine, after the fact.
But when trouble is imminent cameras aren't enough.
"No one knows if someone is going to do something crazy until they do something crazy you can't just look at someone and he looks normal we're going to let him in or if someone looks crazy and they could be a perfectly normal looking person." Parent Kelly Johnson says.
The county says it is starting the competitive bid process right now to find the right system for both the cameras and the visitor id's.
They hope to start immediately upgrading systems at schools by this summer.
They also plan to have another security preview in a few months and take additional steps if needed.