Cedar Falls Schools to add more security cameras - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls Schools to add more security cameras

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

More cameras will soon be keeping an eye on students in the Cedar Falls Community Schools.  The district is using grant funding to help buy 43 security cameras and additional safety lighting for three of its buildings.

The Cedar Falls Community School District has been using security cameras at some of its buildings for nearly a decade.   Three years ago, grant funding helped expand camera us to all district buildings and even to all school buses.   It's been so helpful that now even more cameras will be added.

A computer tucked in a small room at Cedar Falls High School shows activity around the building, as logged by more than two dozen security cameras.  But in the past two years, the district has noticed these cameras don't keep an eye on all the spots it would like to see.

There's currently one security camera inside and outside the main entrance to Cedar Falls High School, which once even caught some mischievous students super-gluing the doors shut.   But not all entrances and exits at the school have cameras.   They will, though, this fall.

Grant funding will help cover "gaps" in security camera coverage at the high school, Lincoln Elementary and Holmes Junior High.

"The request for the second round of equipment came primarily from the building principals.   They felt there were some gaps in coverage of certain areas of specific buildings they'd like to have a little more surveillance in," said Doug Nefzger, Cedar Falls Community School District business affairs director.

The expansion of security cameras is seen as a safety benefit to students and staff.  One example of that came just last week following a bomb threat arrest.

"Obviously the incident we had last Friday at Peet Junior High, the surveillance equipment was instrumental in determining some portions of that incident.   We have had other minor incidents that have happened in the past couple years since cameras have been installed that the building principals have been able to ascertain what's happened, whether a person was in the building, weren't in the building, and be able to take appropriate steps," Nefzger said.

Administrators believe the extra eyes have even helped *stop some bad behavior from happening.

Some school districts have faced legal challenges over privacy concerns from the use of security cameras.   But Cedar Falls administrators say they've not had any such issues.

The Cedar Falls Police Department also has access to the school district's camera system.  So if there's criminal activity or an intruder in a school building, police can better track down potential suspects.

We checked in with eastern Iowa's largest school districts about their security camera use. Iowa City, Dubuque, Western Dubuque, and Waterloo all use cameras, but not every district uses cameras in every building.

Cedar Rapids has cameras inside every district building and is currently working to get them on the outside of all buildings.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education estimates about 86 percent of all districts have cameras in place.

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