Increased survellience accompanies renovations

Security recently went through a makeover alongside the school renovations—new buildings and technology lead to newly installed cameras, motion sensors and technology surveillance.

FCPS Regulation 8614.6, under the “Notice of Authorization to Monitor,” states that, “Video cameras and other imaging devices will not be installed on an ongoing basis where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, but students and employees do not have such an expectation regarding FCPS equipment or on most FCPS property.”

The Student Rights and Responsibilities packet, which every FCPS student signs at the beginning of the year, carries a similar statement.

The new FCPS start times took security one step further with new restrictions on when students can enter the building in the morning; starting this year, students cannot enter the building without a special pass from a teacher until 7:20 a.m.

It’s a matter of resources; teacher hours start later so there are not as many adults in the building, meaning there is no one to oversee students early in the mornings. The library also follows this schedule.

The cameras, especially on the exterior, add another layer of security for people in the building. Once the doors lock, if anyone wants to come in at any door, they must press a button which buzzes in the main office.

The office can then speak to whoever is outside and determine if it is safe for them to come inside. Most visitors, however, must come in through the front doors and sign in with the main office.

“There’s a program out there that the school system is putting into schools where a parent or anyone from the outside would present their driver’s license and it would scan it and then it prints up a pass that has a picture on it and tells us where they’re going, who you’re here to see, why you’re here or something along those lines,” Harrington said.

Litz very recently approved the installation of this system and estimates that it will be fully up and running in about one or two months.

There are also hundreds of cameras and motion sensors inside and outside the building—they are in every hallway, in the cafeteria, in both gyms, and in the auditorium, as well as every door and in the parking lots. There are two types of cameras: panoramic, which the security staff or administration can control and has the ability to shift scope and position, and stationary, which focus only on a certain areas.

While most are visible, there exists a clause in FCPS Regulation 8614.5 titled “Reasonable Suspicion Monitoring,” which states that the administration can place “concealed recording devices” if there is suspicion of policy violation in that particular area. The most common example of this type of monitoring that Williams gave was to catch thieves.

Also outlined under Regulation 8614.6, video and audio surveillance in the buildings and on buses are stored safely for no less than 14 days and no more than 30 days, unless the video is needed for an investigation or for disciplinary evidence. Then FCPS keeps a copy of the feed until the administration deems it no longer necessary.

The other main security tool on-hand is search and seizure. As outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities packet, the administration can search a student if they leave and then return to school property.

Other situations that could warrant a student search are only allowed if the administration has probable cause that the student has illegal substances or objects.

“During field trips where you’re staying overnight and everyone brings their luggage to school, we’re required to search every single bag,” Royle said. “Sometimes it’s hundreds of bags and that’ll take us hours to search. What we’re looking for in these situations is kids that try and bring alcohol on the trip or something they’re not supposed to have,” Royle added.

Although there are many regulations and plans in place to ensure student and staff security, there are always new challenges and room for improvement.

“As we get bigger we’re always going to have more problems,” Williams said. “I don’t think there’s any system or any formula, we just have to anticipate what’s going to get worse.”

The security staff, including Harrington, Williams and Royle, is only comprised of five people.

“I would love to have another cart because it helps us get around when we’re on the outside,” Royle said. “But also I’d like to have another person because sometimes we’re running here and there and it would be nice to have someone else help out.”

Although there are many restrictions and regulations in place on the student body, the ultimate goal is to create the best learning environment possible.

“My role basically is to make sure you, as a student, feel safe and to make sure that the staff feels safe to be here,” Harrington said. “If they don’t feel safe, they can’t bring you the education you need and if you don’t feel safe, then you’re not receptive to what they’re trying to give you.”