Licking County News

Licking Heights will give police access to cameras


Licking Heights is working with the Pataskala Division of Police to allow access to security cameras in school buildings, Superintendent Philip Wagner said.

"It'll be on an as-needed basis," Wagner said. "It's really in the case of when you have to activate the safety plan."

He said the connection should be complete by the end of the school year.

Wagner said district officials reached out to the police department as the district improved its camera and overall video surveillance.

"They've been very receptive," he said. "(Police Chief Bruce Brooks) has been very supportive."

Wagner said the police will have access to the security cameras whenever they are called or an alarm is tripped in one of the buildings.

For example, police would be able to monitor a potential intruder's movements.

Police also will be able to monitor the buildings during weekends and after school hours.

Wagner said the system is not designed to allow police to have constant surveillance of district buildings without an emergency situation.

Police would not "spy" on the buildings, he said.

"We have cameras in the schools already," Wagner said.

He said the district is in the process of adding more cameras and replacing older units with higher-quality cameras.

"Our first responsibility is safety," Wagner said.

He said effective learning is impossible in an environment where students feel unsafe.

Allowing police access is simply an extension of these improvements, he said.

"We're really excited about it," Brooks said.

Brooks said in the age of technology, any advantage the police can have during an emergency situation is appreciated.

He said access to the cameras would help officers better prepare and coordinate actions for whatever situations they might encounter.

Brooks, like Wagner, emphasized it is not a "Big Brother" situation in which the police would monitor the schools all the time.

Brooks said the department would monitor the cameras only at Licking Heights' request.

"They do a fine job of handling things (at Licking Heights)," Brooks said. "We have zero plans of interfering with that."