Thursday, June 26, 2003

Cameras to guard Hamilton schools



By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - About 235 security cameras are being installed in three Hamilton schools this summer, thanks to a $500,000 federal grant.

"The new realities of the 21st century are that schools are putting more thought into security," said Everett Mann, Hamilton schools' business manager, who wrote the grant with Jerry Dolph, maintenance supervisor.

"The Ohio School Facilities Commission allows purchases for security to meet new standards."

The digital cameras will allow Hamilton police or school administrators to have access to what is recorded via computers and passwords.

At night, motion-activated sensors will turn on cameras so they will record only if there is movement, said Todd Thackery, vice president of Steed Hammond Paul Inc., the firm working with the schools on the project.

"The information is recorded on computer hard drives and can be accessed from any computer from within the building or computers the police can have access to."

Eighty cameras are being installed in the parking lots and outside of Hamilton High/Job Development Center complex and 80 inside, Thackery said.

At Wilson Junior High, 15 cameras will be installed outside and 50 inside the school. Garfield Junior High will get 40 interior and 25 exterior cameras.

All interior cameras will be placed in hallways, in the media center, cafeteria, gymnasiums or other public areas, Mann said.

Exterior cameras are largely being installed in parking areas.

"We wanted them in common areas like cafeterias and in high-congestion areas, like hallways," Mann said.

"Our goal is securing the building."

The cameras being installed this summer are more sophisticated than earlier models, also paid for through grants, Mann said.

Without the grant, the district would probably have purchased some cameras but not as many as will be installed.

"Our hope is that we can count the grant as matching funds toward our share of the ... project," he said.

Hamilton Schools are undergoing a 10-year, $176 million reconstruction project that will see nine new schools built to replace 14 elementary schools and additions/renovations at other schools including Hamilton High, Garfield and Wilson.

The cost is being shared between the district and the state commission.

Mann said most of the cameras should be installed by the time students return to classes Sept. 2.

E-mail suek@infionline.net




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