Florida School District Increases Focus on Security

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A proposed $180,000 in security changes would provide surveillance cameras at Saratoga Springs High School to deter crimes such as the attempted kidnapping of a cross-country runner in October.

The city Board of Education ordered a security study after John F. Regan, 49, of Waterbury, Conn., allegedly attempted to abduct a 17-year-old senior shortly after she finished practice on Oct. 31.

"They looked at internal security. They looked at external security. Now, external security was the primary concern with this event," Superintendent John MacFadden said Friday.

"We've always had certain elements of internal security. This would bring us up to camera-ready," MacFadden said.

Kevin Van Detta of Schaefer Lewis Engineers in Colonie will brief the school board Tuesday night on the proposed improvements that could be made to tighten security at the sprawling high school campus. The recommendations call for spending up to $180,000.

Engineers would visit the high school over the next break to examine the building infrastructure and to survey hard-to-reach locations. MacFadden said there are some blind spots around the school, but the installation of a surveillance system would eliminate them.

"All that's to be determined is what level of surveillance and what types of alternatives," MacFadden said.

The spot where the attempted kidnapping occurred was in a rear parking lot behind the high school gym. While this area usually is empty, coaches and members of the cross-country team were present when the alleged abduction attempt occurred.

Police told district officials that a video taken by a surveillance camera would have made the case "a slam dunk," MacFadden said. Investigators have several witnesses to the alleged attempted kidnapping, including the student, who testified about it before a Saratoga County grand jury.

Regan was indicted Nov. 28 by the grand jury on a single count of second-degree attempted kidnapping, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. In addition, Regan faces criminal charges in his hometown and a three-state investigation is under way to determine whether he may be involved in similar abductions.

Regan is still at the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy, Oneida County, for treatment and observation, Sheriff James Bowen said Friday. He has not yet been released for his arraignment on the attempted kidnapping charge. He has been at the psychiatric center since he attempted to hang himself Nov. 3 while being held at the county jail.

School board president Glen Face said he anticipates the board will adopt the security recommendations. District residents, he said, want to see security improved at the high school.

"We're not starting from zero. We've got lighting; we've got people outside," Face said. "To enhance what we have is a natural next step."