PRIEST RIVER — West Bonner County schools are upgrading their security in cooperation with Bonner County, said school district superintendent Paul Anselmo Jan. 6.
“We have security cameras in our schools, and were approached by Bob Howard of Bonner County Emergency Management and Deputy Tim Hemphill of the BCSO about creating access to these cameras in the event of an emergency,” said Anselmo.
Anselmo added that the school district and county emergency management and sheriff’s office recently created a memorandum of understanding.
“All law enforcement will be a part of the plan and the MOU was approved by our board, the county commissioners, Sheriff (Daryl) Wheeler, and the city of Priest River. The ultimate goal is to make our schools a safe place, and this will add another level of protection,” said Anselmo.
Howard said the program will be the first of its kind in the county, and will be offered to other school districts after an initial pilot testing phase in WBCSD schools.
“As the world is today, with active shooters and the type of violence we have to deal with, we approached the schools, and had some discussions about if we have a major incident at a school, could law enforcement have access to school security cameras during the event.”
Howard explained that law enforcement would only have access to the cameras by accessing the Idaho Office of Emergency Management’s web-based program headquartered at Gowen Field in Boise. It would take several layers of security passwords to gain entry to the cameras, which could provide law enforcement officers real-time intelligence on the location and number of assailants, as well as the condition of students and school staff.
“It could help isolate where the assailant is, help mitigate any type of violent act, and lessen the impact of any type of injuries and other occurrences from happening. It’s to make our schools and school staff and children safer when they’re in school during the school day,” he said.
The program will require no additional equipment, said Howard, only some information technology staff time.
The connectivity is still being put into place, said Howard. “We haven’t made it happen yet. We wanted the MOU in place first.”
Howard expressed his hope that the program will lie dormant.
“Hopefully we don’t have to use it.”