Q&A with Lee McCanne explains the goals of video surveillance on campus


This graphic depicts the two cameras located in the student parking lot.                                                                                                            GRAPHIC / Heather Lee

By Heather Lee

Q: When were the parking lot cameras installed, and who decided to install them?

A: The decision to install the cameras was over a year ago; the request was made from Mr. Parker. It was funded in July, but it wasn’t kicked off until August or September this year. Then they went down relatively soon (there was a number of problems in installing them, so they weren’t stable). Because of this, we have taken action to re-engineer cameras, and [as of December] they have been up, running, and stable.


Q; Are there any other security cameras in this school besides the parking lot?

A: There aren’t any cameras in the school, but it depends on what you call ‘in the school.’ They’re generally outside the building pointing at doors, [such as] the main entrances, and in a few cases they may be in a vestibule or inside a building pointed towards a door. This is fairly consistent among all of our schools.


Q: Why were the cameras originally installed?

A: There were several reasons. One is that it is a good to have verifications when you start to put access control systems in place. With traditional keys, if they’re lost, the only recourse is to re-key all the exterior doors which is very very costly. With this kind of access control card, I can just disable it, and there’s no cost to re-keying or working on infrastructure.

Also, one part of access control is the ability to potentially put a building into a lockdown situation. If we felt that a student or staff member was in danger, we want to be able to [quickly] lock the doors.

For the high school parking lot camera, it was a little different. Over the years, there has been a number of things that have happened in the parking lot [such as] fender-benders or vandalism. We felt that in the long run, it would be a good idea to have the cameras there. Every once in awhile there is suspicious activity that is brought to the attention of the police, and the cameras will help us to better track that.

Q: Has it been effective? Were there instances when it proved to be useful?

A: Yes. [For example], we have allegedly seen people stealing construction materials from the back of the building. So yes, it’s been effective on what we intended it for.

Q: Can students access the camera footage?

A: No, we won’t give access to the cameras to the students. Nor is anyone watching them. Nobody is hired to sit there and stare at the cameras; it’s simply diagnostic. If there is an incident, it’s our intent to go back in the footage. Say, for example, suddenly there’s a dent if your car. It’d be nice if you were able to track that down.

Q: Is there anything else you want students to know?

A: I think people should know that there are cameras out there. And there are also signs around the buildings that say there is video surveillance. They’re not in the building, but they are at the entrances. They’re not hidden by any means, and it’s not our intent to hide them – quite the opposite actually. Usually, when you put up a camera, people see that and they behave appropriately. Overall, cameras are installed for student and faculty safety, and for diagnostic purposes.

Our society has changed. You can’t go anywhere without being on a camera somewhere. I don’t know what that says, but it’s the way the world is right now.