County Pursues Secruity Overhaul

Over the past few school years, numerous Montgomery County elementary and middle schools have updated or renovated their security systems. Now these changes are coming to RHS.

The proposed security system for MCPS schools is a $9 million project. An Access Control System (ACS) is being installed in all middle and high schools, and one school resource officer (uniformed police that are not MCPS employees) has been permanently assigned to each of the 25 high schools. Nearly 900 new surveillance cameras have also been installed, including 84 new cameras placed inside of RHS last year.

“[The security system] is definitely increasing the safety and security of our students and staff inside and outside of the building,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.

While cameras can improve safety, some students believe it will not be enough to protect them. Cameras are often only useful after events like fights or thefts, to identify individuals.

“It’s sort of a double-edged sword. On one hand, delving into student life sort of depletes the students’ privacy; however, it can prevent serious situations that can lead to the harm of the student community,” senior Cassandra Canarte-Pollard said.

RHS was re-wired two summers ago for an ACS, installing a scanner outside doors, along with a speaker and camera. Members of administration will be given a card to swipe to enter the building. All visitors, personnel and students will have to press a buzzer and speak while being recorded by a camera.

The timeline for the new security system has ACS functioning in all MCPS schools by December 2014, said Douglas J. Steel, Supervisor of MCPSa�� Department of School Safety and Security.

“I think as long as we continue to experience random acts of violence in schools and society, we will continue to see funding for more secure schools. MCPS has definitely been fortunate to have the funding to add these important measures,” Steel said.