March 30, 2006
Forty surveillance cameras might soon start watching your kids at Charlottesville High School. The decision sparks a debate over privacy versus security.
The days of getting away with dozing off in class, pulling a prank, or sneaking away for a cigarette may be over. Tonight the Charlottesville City School Board is taking a look at keeping an eye on kids with cameras.
Don't worry, there's no voyeurism. Cameras won't be in bathrooms or locker rooms, but they will be watching fire alarms and places where kids have been known to commit vandalism.
“I think it will cut down on pointless fire alarms and violence and just [keep] kids in check,” said 12th Grader Ashley Jensen.
With 15 false alarms this year, kids are out of the building and away from the books for 40 minutes each time.
”People keep talking about it in terms of being able to detect people who have pulled fire alarms [but] you don't need 40 cameras to do that. So the question is, what else, where else are the 40 cameras going to be located and what other purposes are they going to be used for?” said Lloyd Snook, a parent of a Charlottesville High School senior.
The $70,000 investment will be used as a precaution, said administrators.
“We're not looking to go out to catch kids [or] process criminal action against kids. We want things to calm down,” said Acting Superintendent Bobby Thompson.
Violence is up and they want kids to feel safer.
Charlottesville police will also be able to watch students through the Internet in emergency situations.
”God forbid an active shooter in a school situation, where that video could stream to an officer’s in-car computer or to a desk top right here in my office,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
School systems like Albemarle and Louisa already use cameras. They don't snoop on kids, but only look at the video after an incident takes place.
”If you're not doing anything [that you shouldn't be doing], than you shouldn't have anything to worry about, said Louisa high school student Brandon Mickens.
The School Board makes the final decision at tonight's meeting. If passed, the cameras would be installed this summer.