The Merrillville, Indiana school board unanimously approved a plan to become one of the first school districts in the country to link its school's video system directly to the Merrillville Police and Fire dispatch center with duress buttons located in strategic locations throughout the school.
The plan was presented by Tim Moore, President of IBT Video Systems, Inc., an Indiana-based video surveillance manufacturer that currently provides video surveillance technology to numerous schools and other businesses across the country. IBT Video Systems currently has digital video recorders in each of the schools in the district.
Under the plan, the school will have duress/panic switches installed in various locations in the school. Upon the duress switch being activated, the school's video systems will automatically begin streaming live video from the school's 64 video cameras into the police dispatch center along with an audible alarm.
Moore explained, "The dispatcher can then dispatch the proper authorities and begin to assess the situation inside of the school while attempting to make contact with school personnel. Depending on the nature of the emergency, the police can know where the crime is occurring and assess the danger to the students, staff and to law enforcement. By knowing the situation inside the school, the police can better determine the correct tactical approach to the situation. In the event of fire or natural disaster, the Fire Department can assess whether there is smoke in the building or students/faculty trapped, and the extent of the emergency. This allows the Fire Dept. to respond to the appropriate area of the school and determine the amount of equipment and firefighters needed."
Moore continued, "By providing our emergency responders with the knowledge of the situation inside of the school, we help keep our students, teachers, police and firefighters safer and better prepared. It is a proven fact that preparation saves lives during emergency situations."
The dispatch center will also have access to the system if there is reason to believe that a crime is taking place or that a crime will occur on or around the school as well as after school hours, weekends, holidays and any other times that regular school classes are not in session.
Under the plan, IBT Video systems will provide all of the equipment for the Merrillville Police Department as well as training at no cost.
Moore stated to the board that, "This, along with your other security measures and procedures, will place your school among the best-protected and prepared schools in the country."
Under the plan, the high school will be the first school connected, followed by the middle, intermediate and elementary schools.