OREM (News4Utah) – In an active shooter situation, every second matters. A new partnership between Alpine School District and Orem Police Department aims to add an extra level of security for schools.
“How we can respond faster or better? How can we improve safety? We know we’ll never be able to guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen. But what we can do is work together with the experts like law enforcement to shave off seconds or minutes in a response situation where there’s an emergency,” said Kimberly Bird, spokesperson for Alpine School District.
Josie Platts, a resident of Pleasant Grove, said school safety is a big concern for her and her family. She has a total of seven children in the Alpine School District, two in high school.
“Everyday I’m concerned for their well-being, their happiness, their safety,” said Platts. “It’s the reality for our life. People are going into schools and shooting them. It’s dangerous and I don’t want my children to be afraid.”
Concerns like Platts’ is why the Orem Police Department now has direct, real-time access to the school cameras at Orem High School.
“The idea came in a meeting that we (Orem Police Department) had with the Alpine School District. We just kind of threw it out there that we were aware that all of our schools had cameras in them. We thought about if it’s possible for us to remotely log in,” said Lt. Craig Martinez with Orem Police Department. “
Lt. Martinez said thanks to the IT team at Alpine School District, their ability to access Orem High’s cameras didn’t cost their department any money. As a result, law enforcement will now be able to shave seconds or even minutes off in the case of an active threat situation.
“A lot of the information we get in an active threat situation is misinformation. So we’re led to one part of the building, thinking that’s where the spot is, when they’re in a totally different part of the school. This will save us a lot of time,” said Lt. Martinez.
Lt. Martinez said anyone with access can also view the cameras through their cell phones and laptops.
“If there was an active shooting going on within a school, it helps us target the exact area. Otherwise, the SWAT team would have to say, ‘Okay. Let’s check D wing or F hall…the cafeteria, the gymnasium, or the locker rooms,” said Bird.
To ensure privacy, Bird said law enforcement cannot save or record their surveillance footage and would only access the live stream when a dangerous situation was present.
“We don’t have time to sit there and watch school when it in session or to watch kids in the hallway. This is strictly for when there’s a major incident we are called to and we are responding to an emergency situation,” said Lt. Martinez.
Bird said district officials hope to have cameras at Mountain View, Timpanogos, and Polaris High connected to Orem Police by the beginning of next school year.
“Our high schools are the ones that are the most heavily-operated with cameras. The thought is, we’re going to first start with all of our high schools. Down the road, we would bring on junior highs and middle schools. Then the final project would be elementary schools. But there’s not really a time frame for that yet, because it’s so far down the road,” said Bird.
As a parent, Platts said she’s in support of the partnership.
“I love the idea of police being enabled to have a direct eye on the students in case of an emergency,” said Platts. “I think it’s a good step forward. I see that in our school, the teachers, the educators, and the staff…they care about our children and I see them doing constantly things then I was a safety and protection of all children,” said Platts.