School security cameras provide live video feeds to Missouri deputies

May 15--JEFFERSON COUNTY -- A new school security system by which sheriff's deputies can monitor cameras from their patrol cars will help eliminate guesswork when officers are called to the Windsor School District.

Until now, said Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer, "We didn't know if it was one student or three students or more, or what exactly was happening."

From laptops in patrol cars, deputies can view images from several cameras at once, or zoom in on specific areas of a school.

"And you've got the whole issue on tape now; you know exactly what took place," Boyer said at a news conference Wednesday to launch Windsor's $175,000 monitoring system.

The cameras in the district of about 3,100 students are among the first in the area that can be monitored from outside schools by a police agency.

The Union School District in Franklin County is installing a similar system. And the Parkway School District in St. Louis County has portable laptop capability in its own two security vehicles. Parkway security personnel can access the district's security camera video and share it with police.

Two months ago, the Chicago School District became the largest district in the nation to install a similar system. More than 4,500 cameras in Chicago public schools are connected to police headquarters and the city's 911 center, according to the Chicago Tribune .

Jason Roussin, Windsor's technology director, demonstrated the district's system Wednesday from a laptop computer.

Roussin said the district has a total of 48 security cameras around doors, on playgrounds and in hallways at its five schools and other buildings.

Windsor Superintendent Rudy Duran said district officials decided a couple of years ago to start working on the system.

"It's unfortunate that society has gotten to this point, but for the protection of our students and staff we want to be proactive rather than reactive," Duran said.

The system was paid for from a 2006 bond issue approved by district voters for construction and renovations, officials said.

The contractor on the system was C&D Wiring Co. of Hillsboro.

Boyer said that if a similar system had been in place at Columbine High School near Denver in 1999, the shooting rampage that left 15 dead and 23 wounded might have been halted sooner. Police would have had a live image of what was occurring and would have known exactly where to concentrate their efforts, he said.

Duran said officers are given a code by which they can access the school security cameras.

Boyer said he hoped more districts would develop such systems.