Adding a Critical Layer of Security

Deer Park’s district-wide surveillance solution includes video management software and more than 700 Axis network cameras.

The campus is divided into smaller sectors with each assistant principal assigned to patrol a specific sector, while from an office desktop, a corresponding paraprofessional monitors a multi-window view of the cameras operating in that area. The team stays in constant contact via walkie-talkie so that if the paraprofessional sees something that might be problematic, they can radio the AP to move to that area immediately.

“Our student body is fully aware that we have video surveillance in our schools,” Dean says. “They know how we’re managing the campus and it’s made the schools a safer place. We believe the system acts as a great deterrent to bad behavior.”

Strategic Saturation

LenSec selected specific Axis network cameras based on structural and environmental factors and the desire to keep the cameras highly visible to help deter criminal or mischievous behavior.

For buildings with suspended ceilings, LenSec installed AXIS 210 Fixed Network Cameras in housing that replaced one of the ceiling tiles. For high-ceiling areas, the AXIS 210 Network Cameras were wall-mounted. Vandal-resistant AXIS 216FD-V Fixed Dome Network Cameras were installed in locations with hard ceilings, low ceilings and in gymnasiums where their rugged design could withstand the impact of basketballs and other objects.

The primary external camera is the AXIS 211 Fixed Network Camera, equipped with a varifocal lens for a wide range of views. AXIS 225FD Fixed Dome Network Cameras were used in areas with limited mounting heights like walkways. AXIS 233D PTZ Network Cameras gave Deer Park officials the ability to track suspicious behavior in real-time in stadiums, athletic fields, parking lots and driveways. 

Gaining Credibility

Working hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, district staff has demonstrated that the network video surveillance system can be a valuable tool in a crisis. In Active Shooter drills, teams have been able to track and identify a perpetrator in less than one minute. Drills aside, because of the cameras’ high resolution, the district has been able to catch vandals on video during break-ins, and identify and charge them with a felony.

The external PTZ cameras also give administrators an important window to the outside environment. “We live along the Houston shipping channel with industry pretty close to our district,” Dean says. “Should we have an industrial accident, such as a chemical leak or fire; the cameras help us keep an eye on the situation so that we can respond accordingly.”

Because the superintendent and administrators in the central office can view the entire district from their desktops, they can continue monitoring events as they unfold. They also have the freedom to view any campus in the district from any PC that allows access to the network.

While federal privacy regulations bar parents from viewing school video without a subpoena, having the video at hand has helped Dean to mediate complaints. “Parents have a perception of an event based on what their child has told them,” Dean says. “I listen to their side of the story but also review the video file of the incident sent to me by the school principal. It gives me more credibility with the parents when they know I’ve seen an actual recording of the event as it happened. This makes it easier to resolve the issue to their satisfaction.”

Expanding the security blanket

In an effort to better ensure food and kitchen staff safety, Deer Park has begun installing network cameras in all its campus kitchens. This will enable the Director of Child Nutrition to monitor kitchen and cafeteria activity from his desktop.

As more campus renovations are started, the district is remodeling school entrances to include locked vestibules. Cameras mounted at those entrances will help staff identify visitors before deciding whether to buzz them into the building. “We want to be welcoming to parents and visitors,” Dean says, “but we also want to prevent anyone from just wandering into our buildings without our knowledge.

“I’m not naïve to the fact that on any given day, any one of our schools may experience a problem or an incident. And I know that we can’t anticipate every eventuality,” Dean concludes. “But having a sufficient saturation of network cameras at each facility is an important layer in our overall security plan.”