Schools working with police, allowing them to tap into live surveillance cameras during emergencies

When parents drop their kids off at school, they want to make sure their kids are safe. Part of that safety is knowing who is coming into the school and where they are going.

Partnerships between some school districts and local law enforcement agencies are making it easier to spot intruders or hone in on emergency situations should they arise.

“Our video system is tied directly to the Middleton Police Department,” said Jim Blodgett, the director of technology services for the Middleton-Cross Plains School District.

Blodgett said his school district has been allowing police to tap into its live surveillance feed since 2014 as a way to better communicate in emergency situations like a fire or an active shooter.

“We have roughly 400 cameras districtwide. They can access all of them at any time,” Blodgett said.

DID YOU KNOW: Schools have been working with local law enforcement to give them the ability to tap into live school surveillance feeds in emergency situations?

They say police can’t access these unless they’re asked to do so by school administrators.

— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) October 9, 2019

The $400,000 system ensures that law enforcement officers know exactly what they’re dealing with when responding to an emergency and helps them respond faster by narrowing their locations.

“This system really helps the dispatcher direct those first responders to the spot where they need to be quickly,” Blodgett said.

Police can also access it through a mobile app.

​​​However, Blodgett said police can’t just look at the cameras whenever they want.

“We have a memorandum of understanding that details how they’re allowed to use our camera system and when they can be in it,” he said.

The Middleton-Cross Plains School District isn’t the only place this is happening. District staff in Monona, Mount Horeb and Deforest all confirmed they have similar systems in place. Stoughton and Madison area school districts said this is not something they are currently using. Sun Prairie, Verona, Fitchburg, Waunakee, McFarland and Oregon never responded to our calls asking if they have a system in place.

While there hasn’t been an explicit need for these cameras yet, Blodgett knows it’s better to have this system in place now in case there ever is.

“It can also help students understand the importance of law enforcement and how law enforcement can really help them, also,” Blodgett said.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.