Safety and Security-Part 1: The Cameras are coming WITH or WITHOUT 2007 referendum
(This is a repost of an entry from last year's referendum. Some information is still pertinent this year.)
Certainly every parent wants to know their children are safe while at school. The district knows this too and makes it one of their reasons to vote for the referendum.
On Elmbrook’s “Fact” sheet #1, it states: “While it is now standard equipment in most high schools, neither Brookfield Central nor Brookfield East has a closed circuit security television system for monitoring activity in the hallways, common areas, or parking lots and for monitoring access to over 60 outside doors at each school.”
There is one BIG FACT missing from this sheet. The FACT that next year, the cameras will be installed regardless of referendum passage. Principal LaBonte told us this little known fact when I toured Central last month.
Here is another FACT you may be interested in. Other area schools have been in the process of getting their cameras installed for a few years now, working their way, school by school through their districts--without a referendum.
Time to dispel another fallacy: These cameras are not to protect against Stranger Danger or terrorist intrusion. I think when most people hear the words security system or closed circuit security cameras they immediately conjure up the image of the security checkpoint at the Pentagon!
THIS is NOT what these cameras are for. These cameras are primarily to monitor STUDENT activity, not STRANGER activity.
A recent Brookfieldnow article stated, “In a time when many high schools around the nation have dealt with incidents of school violence, a closed-circuit security television system is necessary to monitor activity in the hallways, common areas and parking lots, according to principals.”
Remember that most high school violence is caused by students, not strangers. The cameras record motion in the hallways or wherever they are mounted, and that information is stored for future use. As a rule, it is not monitored continually during the day as we would think of a closed circuit television system. It is only there if there is an incident, they can see who was involved.
While on the mechanical tour of Central, the guide told us that one of the stairways in the 3 story addition was seldom used. I asked why, since I had heard the other stairways were so crowded. He hesitated, then said, they were too isolated and things happened in the stairwells.
Whether we are talking hanky-panky or bullying or drug deals, I don’t know. I do know going back to the concept of a hall monitor might help. In any event, this is not a STRANGER problem; it is a STUDENT problem.
The real question is: Why has Elmbrook neglected this “need” until now?
Could it be the same reason they have neglected other standard maintenance issues? They are trying to present a needier picture of our high schools than there really is, and in the case of security cameras, they will be installed next year—even without the referendum.