Security cameras at UAHS continue to monitor hallways

by Sophie Yang, ’19

The school administration installed 15 security cameras in key points around UAHS last September to monitor potential intruders and student conduct within the school walls.

According to assistant principal Luis Vazquez, the cameras are accessible through computers by Principal Andrew Theado; assistant principals Jaclyn Angle, Jennifer Mox and himself; Student Resource Officer Jon Rice; UA Chief Operating Officer Chris Potts; and the local police and fire departments.

In addition to being high-definition, Vazquez helped select specific camera locations to cover all hallways at UAHS.

“They’re placed strategically so you can pick up more than one hallway with just one camera,” Vazquez said. “One picks up where the other one leaves off.”

Although the cameras cover most of UAHS — save for the auditorium, cafeteria, learning center and athletic facilities — Chief Operating Officer Chris Potts said they are not constantly being reviewed.

“We do not have a dedicated person watching the system every hour of the day,” Potts said.

Instead, as Vazquez explains, footage may be pulled up when incidents arise.

“If there’s vandalism in the hallway, if there’s an intruder in the school that shouldn’t be here and we couldn’t identify them, we could look at the camera,” Vazquez said. “It can be in real time, or we can back it up a day, a week — whatever we need.”

At this time, the administration has not decided whether or when footage will be deleted, although Vazquez sees that a one-year save period is realistic.

A Response

According to Vazquez and Potts, the security cameras were a direct response to an incident on Aug. 23 in which students poured gasoline on natatorium lobby’s carpet and walls. After the incident, the UAHS administrative team, central office leaders, and the police and fire departments called a top-tier meeting.

“We’re conscious about the security of students, and we wanted to take that next step,” Vazquez said.

Potts said the cameras were purchased from State Security, the same company that monitors UAHS’s fire alarm system, for $17,622. Although representatives from the company created a proposal and provided the cameras, they are no longer connected to the security system or footage.

In addition, Vazquez said the police and fire departments were in strong support of the cameras, which have now become a staple across central Ohio and the country as a whole. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that four years ago, 75 percent of public schools had installed security cameras.

A security camera records footage of the freshman and music hallways. This camera, like its 14 counterparts, is usually unmonitored. Photo by Grace Houser.

Arlingtonian reached out to several other suburban high schools in the central Ohio area. Of the ten schools called, all reported they employed security camera systems, making UAHS one of many schools in a local and national trend.

According to Vazquez, the camera implementation doesn’t echo UAHS security incidents last school year so much as increasing gun-violent events across the United States.

“The cameras won’t prevent [that type of situation], but it can help us by monitoring who should be in the building and who shouldn’t,” Vazquez said.

However, the cameras could serve a purpose beyond seeking intruders: if any illegal activities or school policy-breaking activities such as drug exchange are noticed on camera, the students involved could face disciplinary action.

“We just hope that the security cameras have some type of positive impact on the school and school climate,” Vazquez said.