by Joe Cook
Around three years ago, the school announced that a security camera system would be installed.
The cameras were installed in few location and did not cover many of the hallways in the school.
Fifty cameras not included in the original plans were installed and became operational on Feb. 17.
This instillation is an important step for the school to ensure security for students for many years to come.
The need for the cameras inside the school was made evident this year when many football players had personal items stolen.
A thief broke into the football locker room during practice, cut locks off lockers, and took smart phones and cash.
The previous system of cameras did not have a clear view on the entrances to the locker room.
By law, the school is not allowed to place cameras in restrooms or inside locker rooms.
The school is also required to notify students when the cameras are turned on. Students were notified that the cameras had become operational by Assistant Principal Chris Westman on Feb. 17.
“[Our cameras] could only contribute to the case [against the thief],” Principal Rev. Patrick Fulton, C.S.B., said. “The school that did have cameras installed caught footage of the thief.”
There were rumors among students that the cameras were installed as part of the plan for tablets next year, in order to make sure that none were stolen.
Fulton stressed the fact that the cameras were not installed for in response to the tablets or to constantly monitor the students.
“I’m not here to play Big Brother,” Fulton said. “The cameras are to make for a safer environment.”
The new cameras, as well as the old ones, will be able to offer security to what is a very open campus. They will also help the school save a bit of money, as the school gets an insurance deduction as a result of installing the cameras.
A very limited number of people will have access to what the cameras see.
Only the Principal, the Dean of Students, the Director of Operations, and the Business Manager will have access to the camera feed. Requests to review footage have to be approved by the Principal. Limited other personnel will have access for maintenance purposes, like IT department staff.
There are some students who do believe that the new cameras will not change the security at all.
“I already feel as though St. Thomas is as safe as an environment you are going to find when it comes to high schools,” junior Nicholas Williams said. “The addition of cameras to the school will not do much to help this.”
Other students feel as if the cameras are not necessary, and only make the relationship between students and the administration tense.
“I find the cameras to be pointless,” senior David Holleman said. “I feel like they won’t catch anything, and that all they’ve done is added a bit of insecurity among the students, who feel like they’re under constant surveillance.”
Teachers also have ideas as to what exactly the cameras will do.
“I don’t know if it will necessarily make the school safer,” Dr. Steven Meyer said. “I do think it will help catch anyone who does commit a crime here.”
The new cameras will do more to ensure the safety and security of students than the previous system could.
With these added eyes, the school will be able to watch the halls more carefully to make sure that past security issues, ranging from theft from the locker room during a team practice, to a stranger entering the main office and confronting an employee, remain a thing of the past and not a periodic occurrence.