Earlier this year, when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners met with school officials in a third-floor conference room in the downtown county-owned BB&T building, Commissioner Alan Perdue pointed out a serious problem with school security: a good number of security cameras in the schools weren’t working.
This week, after new disturbing incidents at county schools, Perdue, who served for years as the county’s Emergency Services director, said he was alarmed to find out that, even now, after that serious discussion and more security incidents, the issue has not been addressed.
Perdue said that security cameras can be a critical tool during and after threat incidents – however, he added, they don’t do any good if they aren’t working.
Perdue said that there had been a large school fight at the start of classes this semester and it was his understanding that the camera system was not functioning – something he said that could have been used to determine exactly what happened and find those at fault.
Except that, if the cameras aren’t working, they’re no help.
Perdue said there were several recent incidents at schools in the new school year where non-functioning cameras missed the action and he said that, especially after a discussion between the commissioners and school leaders earlier this summer, he had hoped the issue would be addressed.
“We gave them the money to fix the cameras,” Perdue said of the Board of Commissioners action.
Several years ago, the board approved raising $10 million for school security through a special bond sale. Some of the money did end up getting spent on school security. However, Perdue said, clearly the camera system still needs a lot of work.
School system leaders have pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic hit the system like a ton of bricks in early 2020 and school staff has had to put in a massive effort just to keep the kids from missing out on over a year of education.
In early June, when the county commissioners met with school leaders, Perdue expressed his unease regarding multiple reports he’d heard of widespread issues with the school system’s security cameras.
At that time, there had just been a highly publicized on-campus group attack on a 14-year-old girl at a school in Perdue’s district.
At that June meeting, Perdue told school officials that security cameras in schools were extremely important and said there had been a solid amount of funding by the commissioners for that purpose.
“The lack of cameras has hampered some investigations and safety issues for locating students or identifying those that are involved in an incident,” Perdue said back in June.
Perdue noted back then that the county commissioners approved $10 million to use for upgrading school security cameras and other security concerns.
Contreras acknowledged in June that there were deficiencies when it came to the school system’s security cameras.
“The cameras are an ongoing issue in the schools, and we simply have not had enough money to address the camera issues when we don’t have enough money to address basic heating issues and cooling issues and roof issues,” she told the board.