The Putnam Examiner

Mahopac Schools Receive Security Camera Upgrade

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The Mahopac Board of Education looks on during last Wednesday’s meeting at Mahopac Falls Elementary School.
The Mahopac Board of Education looks on during last Wednesday’s meeting at Mahopac Falls Elementary School.

By Janine Bowen

At Wednesday’s Board of Education in Mahopac, Director of Educational Technology Tracey Shaffer gave a presentation updating the public on the district’s new security cameras.

“This is not a system gathering dust,” she said. “It is a system being used day in and day out for the primary reason of safety in our schools.”

Among the changes made to the district’s security system is the installation of 121 new cameras in addition to the transfer of 83 existing cameras onto a new, digital system.

The district has been utilizing security cameras since 2002, and upgraded them just four years ago in 2009, but after the Sandy Hook tragedy, they realized the technology was not sufficient to protect students.

The new cameras are of a higher quality and the monitoring software will be updated on a quarterly basis to keep the system as modern as possible. The cameras also have some new features, including the ability for the outdoor cameras to zoom on license plates of suspicious vehicles. In addition, some cameras in low-traffic areas are on motion sensors, so they are only in use when necessary, allowing for easier monitoring.

Cameras are currently only placed in hallways, lobbies, and entrances, and there are no plans to install them in classrooms. However, several residents pointed out that there are presently cameras in the gymnasium, which has caused some debates about student privacy.

Although the new cameras have just been installed, phase two of this security update is already underway. The district hopes to swap some of the 83 original cameras that are in high traffic areas with newer ones. In addition, they are in the process of adjusting the placement and angling of some of the new cameras to allow for a better view of the school.

In addition, the school is working on their visitor management system. The current high school system takes the drivers licenses of all visitors and cross checks them against the national sex offender registry before allowing entrance into the building. Shaffer told the board that her department is currently looking into vendors to implement as similar system in all schools district wide as well as update the high school system.

“We are very pleased with these efforts and realize that it is a continued vigilance,” said district Superintendent Thomas Manko, after requesting a moment of silence to commemorate the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. “We have to maintain and sustain our effort going forward every year,” he continued.

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