Schools buy security equipment with grant

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Richmond County is taking significant steps toward securing schools and curbing gang violence in its hallways.

With the help of a $554,000 federal grant, the school system will install nearly 1,500 surveillance cameras, high-tech recording equipment and 10 walk-through metal detectors. The U.S. Justice Department grant will also fund infrastructure upgrades, television and computer monitors and laptops for school board police officers on patrol.

"The timing is perfect," Director of Public Safety Julia Porter-Stein said.

In the application for the Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our Schools Grant, she cited a need for the funding, pointing to increases in murders, home invasions and robberies in the community.

"Many of these incidents can be traced back to gang members, which can be traced back to the school system where many of these individuals conduct criminal activities and disrupt the school day," the application stated.

Investigator Blaise Dresser, of the Richmond County sheriff's gang task force, agreed that gang activity in schools is on the upswing and that pupils are getting more bold, openly claiming gang affiliations.

But Ms. Porter-Stein, like many higher-ups in the school system, has had little choice but to cut her budget this year because of shortfalls in revenue. "I didn't put any of these items in my budget because I knew going in there wouldn't be any money," she said.

Richmond County schools' dollar-for-dollar match to the federal grant means the system will be spending more than $1 million to protect pupils and property and better equip schools and its 36 sworn officers.

New metal detectors will replace outdated ones in high schools, and they will be installed in middle schools. The new cameras will provide greater protection because criminals won't be able to cover them up or position them away from their activities.

Cameras will also be installed at all elementary schools. The system's practice had been to have them only at middle and high schools.

Crime on campuses creates fear among pupils to the extent that many stay home, according to the Department of Public Safety.

School board employees share that fear. A survey by MGT of America released in March found that 49 percent of Richmond County's central office administrators, 40 percent of principals and assistant principals and 53 percent of teachers don't feel the schools are safe.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

SECURITY PURCHASES MADE WITH THE GRANT

NUMBER ITEM PURPOSE
18 16-channel digital video recorders To make hard copies from surveillance cameras
and retain video longer than the current three-day capability
192 Weather-proof color dome cameras To provide clearer images, prevent camera damage
and stop cameras from being covered up
1296 Indoor dome color cameras To replace grainy, unreliable cameras
10 Walk-through metal detectors To replace outdated metal detectors in high schools
and add detectors in middle schools
40 19-inch color monitors To replace black-and-white monitors
and better identify those caught on camera
2 22-inch flat-screen monitors To replace obsolete smaller monitors, enhance video
and keep watch over larger areas
7 Laptops To allow officers to check criminal records during patrols,
and create mobile databases
Comments (8) Add comment
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As It Is
2
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As It Is 09/20/08 - 04:06 am
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Good job in brining in the

Good job in brining in the federal grant money to provide for better public safety within the schools.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 09/20/08 - 07:00 am
0
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Use the grant money to expand

Use the grant money to expand the alternative school and remove the trouble makers. The video equipment is a waste of money except for the rare prosecution of a student. As a result, nothing will change, except someones brother in the electronics business will get a big boost in the bill fold.

ibeawalkingtooldmemphis
0
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ibeawalkingtooldmemphis 09/20/08 - 07:08 am
0
0
cameras, recorders, metal

cameras, recorders, metal detectors. this is the level our country and schools have sunk to.

christian134
1
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christian134 09/20/08 - 10:33 am
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Quite frankly the depths that

Quite frankly the depths that public schools have sunk is so far down below the muck and usual mire that I would not feel good about sending a rabid dog to school let alone my child...How can anyone expect anyone to feel comfortable about their children attending a school where not just a small amount of violence occurs but where violence has become a part of the curriculum...It was getting to the breaking point when our last child graduated now it is past beyond control...I don't know where the answers are going to come but I do know that my grandchild will get his education for another source...

a different drum
26
Points
a different drum 09/20/08 - 12:33 pm
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I looked at the RCBOE web

I looked at the RCBOE web site (www.rcboe.org). They say that the average Georgia local school system spent $8428.05 per FET (Full Time Equivalent) student in 2007. The RCBOE spent $5782.83 per student directly on instruction in 2007. I believe children could be educated in private schools through a voucher system for less. This would save tax payers a lot of money and the children would probably get a better education. I think we should try a voucher program on a small scale and see how it works.

TheTruth
1
Points
TheTruth 09/20/08 - 02:17 pm
0
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You want school safety. I'll

You want school safety. I'll tell you where to start: The Department of Juvenille Justice. You want to know why there is such a bad problems in the schools in Richmond County? Kids 16 and under know that DJJ is not going to do a thing to them but release them back to their parents. No fines, no jail time, no bootcamp, no workfarms. So they cut classes, smoke dope, steal, and commit violence with impunity. Also, let's get real and stop using public safety officers and start using REAL Richmond County Sherrifs in the schools. Regardless of age, haul their butts down to 4th Street when they commit violence at the schools. While you're at it, throw some of these ineffective parents in jail for not controlling their kids. Why is it that my daughter can live in a lower middle class neighborhood, go to public schools, and flourish. EXPECTATIONS. She knows that if she steps out, she'll get all of her stuff and privledges taken away and won't be able to sit down for a week. She knows that if she ever talks disrespectfully to an adult that she won't have any teeth to talk through. Quit being these kids friends and start being PARENTS!!!

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/20/08 - 02:46 pm
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A big step towards improving

A big step towards improving security in the schools. However, think back to the GPS systems purchased for the RCBOE Transportation System. Is there software and has anyone been trained to use this new equipment?

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 09/20/08 - 05:36 pm
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There are other questions

There are other questions that come to mind, like is there any plan or are they going to make it up as they go along? are the systems going to be wireless or hard wired, and where is they money going to come from for installation? if there are 8 high schools and 10 middle schools, where is the equipment coming from for the 36 elementary schools? etc.

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