Security Technology is a Top Priority

Security Technology is a Top Priority

Gary Christian has been in law enforcement for 42 years, and he has never had to fire his service weapon. He wants to keep it that way. After 32 years and a retirement as a deputy chief of Detroit Police Department, Christian has spent the past 10 years with Detroit Public Schools, the largest school district in Michigan.

There is no secret to his successes. He is, however, sold on the idea that using the best technology possible will assist in keeping K-12 campuses secure. That security starts at any given front entry. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) has been using IPVideo’s ViewScan for the past eight years with outstanding success. Crime has been reduced by 37 percent and even sharper declines in serious crime by 61 percent.

ViewScan has been the cornerstone in reducing campuses crime, including detecting a firearm. This technology has been vitally important for DPS as attendance has increased, and the solution is less intrusive, replacing the unwanted physical pat down by staff if a weapon has been detected.

Making the Unknown, Known

Detroit schools have been faced with similar security issues as other schools nationwide. In the 2010-11 school year, a technology push was put in place, particularly at the high school level.

“DPS was facing heavy crime and various types of weapons coming into school,” said Rick Cadiz, the vice president of sales and marketing at IPVideo Corp. “The school district had been facing a situation where attendance was down because kids were afraid to go to school. Parents were concerned that their children were being treated like criminals and patting the student down. There were also concerns about a delay in the school day beginning as it was taking some time to get students through security.”

Christian learned about ViewScan, and quickly liked what he saw. His recommendation to the school board was to deploy the security solution, cutting throughput time quickly. The process was faster as children were screened quickly without cutting into class time. Christian said that the school then deployed the system as both a portable solution and fixed units, including a custom system that is built into the door frames.

Since the initial installation in 2011, 32 schools have been outfitted with ViewScan. At this point, security within the district took on a life of its own.

Finding Concealed Weapons

DPS began with the installation of the concealed weapons detector walk-through portals, which use advanced magnetics technology to accurately pinpoint threat objects on a visual image of the subject. An investment of more than a half million dollars allowed for 60 portals to be installed. This also allows a photo tag of every student entering the buildings in a faster, more efficient procedure.

“It is simple for staff to work with this security device,” Cadiz said. “This is a passive technology, so anyone walking through it is safe from electromagnetic radiation pulses. The throughput can reach as many as 1,000 students per hour.”

The solution provides digital images of not only the student but also the exact location of a weapon or cell phone on that person. An alarm will sound when an unwanted item is located. Monitors or security staff are able to pull that person aside and stop the person who is carrying an unwanted item.

The Upgrades Continue

All new and renovated schools have received an enhanced security entrance with security office and monitors to display all school cameras. All schools in the district will benefit from an $18 million camera and alarm upgrade. The upgrades are currently taking place, and were in the works over the summer months. The cameras, and the ViewScan displays, also can be viewed at the Command Center and from the school’s administration area and principal’s office. “Under this system, when there is an incident or unwanted entry, cameras and alarms will activate at the doors,” Christian said. “The camera system will initiate and record the previous 15 seconds of activity to the alarm. Cameras also activate at the Command Center. Officers at the Command Center then can activate video of all cameras at a school to know the exact place to respond.”

IPVideo Corp. took control of the manufacturing, sales and marketing of ViewScan in 2018, and the most exciting part of the security system is that they have been maintenance free the past eight years.

“This security system is a game changer in terms of school security,” Cadiz said. “DPS has an enrollment of nearly 50,000 students, and 106 schools, and close to 16,000 staff and more than 3,000 teachers. Reliability and security were at the top of mind when choosing a system to protect everyone.”

Christian said that now, even eight or nine years later, ViewScan remains a state of the art security system. He said times have changed in the security world and within the education vertical. Schools and school security staffs are looking for precautionary measures to ensure a safe and secure school. What it comes down to are guns and people.

“People know we have this security system in place, so bringing a gun to school is the last thing on someone’s mind, or at least I hope that is the case,” Christian said. “With a concealed weapon or being caught with a gun, this is a felony offense. Knowing this is in place also serves as a deterrent. People know we have them in place; they know they work. Since installing this security system, we’ve been lucky, but students also will tell us if there are guns on the way to school or if there is an intent to bring a gun to school. Students know their lives are on the line as well.”

Cass Technical High School

Two schools with the largest population of students have been the test bed for ViewScan. Cass Technical High School has a population of more than 2,400 students. Demographically, the student population is 85 percent African American as well as a diverse population of students of Bengali, Hispanic/ Latino, Arabic, Asian, and Caucasian descent. This demographic is reflective of the community at-large. The instructional staff also reflects a similar ethnic diversity. Cass Tech attracts its student population from the city of Detroit as well as the larger tri-county metropolitan area. Students come to school with a wide range of abilities, talents, and skill-levels. Our success is anchored in collaborative, solution-driven decision-making which is inclusive of all stakeholders. We created a strategic plan based on best practices to ensure improved student achievement and school success. The school has ViewScan at both the North and South entrances of the school. The school graduates 97 percent of its senior class.

Western International High School

Western International High School is located in southwest Detroit and is a safe haven for a diverse group of students. Being the only comprehensive high school in Southwest Detroit, Western serves as a feeder to the surrounding middle schools. We have a multicultural community of students and staff to optimize support for success. The diverse enrollment includes one of the largest bilingual populations in the state of Michigan. As it was built in 1813, it has served generation

after generation of students that have moved on to further education. This high school is a PBIS school and provides various services for students to succeed. In addition to staff support, Western has developed strong partnerships with various colleges like Wayne State University and Central Michigan University through their Upward Bound Programs that guide and assist students through their high school career.

The pathways offered include the Engineering Mobility and TEACH (Technology, Engineering, and Clinical Health). In addition to the career pathways, Western has a great Vocational Tech program that allows students to get first-hand experience in the professional field of their choosing. This high school also has chosen to secure its student body with ViewScan at both entrances, enhancing the student experience on a daily basis.

All other schools within the district remain on the mind and collective conscience of the district’s police department and administration. Cost is a factor, as it is with anything, to outfitting schools with the proper security equipment. The plan is to protect all schools with the ViewScan security system. The system is monitored by security professionals; one armed and one unarmed, who watch the screen for possible unwanted objects. It is always about safety and security, Christian said.

“After 42 years in law enforcement, I’m at a point in my career where I want to see students getting a safe and secure education. I don’t want anyone walking out of here with a felony conviction,” Christian said. “And, I don’t ever want to have to pull my service weapon out of the holster. Kids need an education, and if we provide the security, they can come to school without fear.”

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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