News Feature | July 3, 2014

New Jersey Bill Would Grant Police Access To School Security Cameras

By Trisha Leon, contributing writer

School Security Camera Access In New Jersy

School districts have become increasingly concerned with security over the past decade, especially considering many of the tragic shootings that have taken place on school and college campuses. As a result, more schools are installing security camera systems, which, arguably, create a safer environment for students, teachers, and administrators. Despite debates over privacy issues, most faculty and parents agree that cameras are an integral component of a school’s security system, and therefore many districts have either already installed cameras or are looking to do so.

In addition, New Jersey Sen. James Beach has authored a state bill that would require schools with security cameras already in place to grant remote access to law enforcement. An editorial in Lehigh Valley Live explains that “school without security cameras would not be forced to install them. But schools with cameras would be required to provide the local police department — or the local police — with the IP address.” The bill does, however, recognize privacy concerns and provides that “law enforcement officials would only be allowed access to the cameras under certain specific situations, such as an active shooter on campus or some other serious emergency situation that both the police and school officials agree upon. Only certain law enforcement officials specified in an agreement would be allowed to access the live video, and police departments would be required to create plans to prevent unauthorized access.”

The bill is attractive because allowing police access to the live streams under very specific emergency circumstances serves to make schools safer by providing police with the best, real-time information about what is unfolding. Districts in other states have begun to see the value in installing security camera systems and giving law enforcement agencies access to live feeds as well, and it looks as though this trend will continue to spread throughout the country.

Both hardware and software solutions will be integral to schools as they endeavor to heighten security and comply with local and state mandates.