Easton, Conn., Police Cameras to Watch Schools

EASTON -- The Police Department is outfitting the town's two schools with digital video monitoring and recording systems, allowing officers at headquarters to see who is coming and going, officials said.

At the same time, the department will install digital video recording systems in patrol cars, replacing the older videotape systems that have been used for years.

Police Chief John Solomon said the work is under way with two grants from the U.S. Justice Department totaling $114,000.

The patrol car systems are on order and should be installed later this month. They provide video evidence, such as in drunken-driving arrests, in the event they are needed in court.

At the schools, Samuel Staples Elementary has already been wired for digital video monitoring, Solomon said.

The cameras, located in the driveway and at the entry/exit points of the building, record who comes and goes. It is a much higher level of security than most schools have because it will be connected live to headquarters.

"We'll get to Helen Keller Middle School after the first of the year," Solomon said.

Typically, the Justice Department grants pay half the cost of the project. The town must pay the other half. First Selectman William Kupinse said that share of the funding will come from the town's capital budget.

"It's a good investment," Kupinse said, adding that the cameras should help make the schools safe and secure. "If there is a problem, the police will be able to respond faster."

There have been some acts of vandalism at the schools, but nothing in particular prompted Solomon's initiative to apply for the grants, Kupinse said.

Still, the effort to outfit the schools with security cameras comes in the wake of recent school shootings in other parts of the nation, including one at an Amish school in rural Pennsylvania.

Parents will understand the cameras are necessary for security, said Supt. of Schools Allen Fossbender.

Fossbender said the cameras also would protect the schools by photographing people outside who may have damaged the buildings.

"They'll be effective to protect the safety in the building of the students and staff," he said.