Oakland Schools Get 750 Security Cameras

It’ll soon be harder for delinquent students and would be-criminals to get away with committing a crime in the Oakland School System. At least that’s what the school district hopes. A high-powered security system with at least 750 cameras is being implemented in 30 middle schools and high schools in the city. The cameras are supposed to be installed by August 2011.

The district hopes the cameras will cause a reduction in crimes such as defacing of property, and even keep students from cutting class. The camera footage will be linked so that Oakland police and authorized school district staff members can sign in and view it at any time online, even giving them the ability to zoom in if needed. A spokesman for the district said you can see something as small as the insignia on a shoe when the high-quality cameras zoom in.

The high-tech surveillance system will cost about $3 million; half is being paid by the school district and half is coming from a grant from the Department of Justice. According to Michael Moore, Sr., the district’s director of procurement, the money had already been set aside for security purposes.

The cameras will be located both inside and outside the schools. They’ll watch what’s happening in the hallways, gymnasiums, and in the parking lots and streets surrounding the schools. However, they will not be installed in classrooms or bathrooms. Urban Promise Academy principal Mark Triplett said he thinks the cameras are a “great idea.” He also said that while he already uses cameras to monitor who comes and goes from the school after-hours, the quality is grainy and unclear. Triplett’s middle school is not on the list of schools where cameras will be installed but he says he’d like to see to it that they are.

The first school to receive the cameras was Oakland Technical High School in North Oakland. They were installed there last week. Fred Trotter, the head security officer at the school, has already used the cameras to identify three different students on three separate occasions. One was using illegal drugs on campus, another had a weapon, and another one was defacing school property with graffiti. As word about the cameras spread amongst the student body, it is likely that crime will decrease.

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