Philadelphia schools hit by gun violence to get new security cameras

Nineteen Philadelphia schools deeply affected by gun violence will be outfitted with state-of-the-art outdoor security cameras in an effort to fight crime and ensure safe passage for students to and from schools, officials said Monday. responsible.

The effort will come from a $1.8 million package to be presented on Tuesday, City Council Speaker Darrell L. Clarke said outside Bartram High School, where a 17-year-old student was killed shot nearby just after the time of the dismissal in January.

The money will pay for at least 100 new security cameras from the city’s capital budget. An additional $1 million will be added to the operating budget to fund analysts to review real-time imagery in 15 hallways identified by the Philadelphia School District and the police department.

The 19 schools receiving new cameras are Edison High School/Clemente Middle School, Mastbaum High, Bartram High, South Philadelphia High, Fels High, Lincoln High/Meehan Middle School/Northeast Community Propel Academy, Dobbins High, Ben Franklin High, Duckery Elementary, High School of the Future, Frankford High, Kensington CAPA, Northeast High/Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Roxborough High and Harding College.

The school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 people last month shocked the country, Clarke said, but Philadelphia has its own crisis, with several young people shot dead on the way to school this year.

“We have Bartram,” Clarke said at a press conference. “We have Dobbins.”

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Since last August, more than 500 young people have been shot in the city and 90 of them have died, said Craig Johnson, deputy chief of school safety for the district.

“We all know we need to stop losing almost an entire generation of young people,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who supports the decision to install cameras and the increased city funding it will require.

The schools in the city have cameras, but they are old analog cameras that don’t provide real-time information and don’t cover a lot of ground. The new technology will provide more comprehensive security, with images feeding into a central system.

Students need to feel safe getting to and from school, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

“It’s obvious that more needs to be done,” Outlaw said.

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez said the cameras won’t solve all the problems and can’t be used in isolation, but they are an important tool, both as deterrent and as potential evidence when crimes occur.

“We have to create a culture of – if you’re going to do something, somebody’s going to watch you,” Quiñones Sánchez said. “We want September to start with a different tone.”

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In addition to the new cameras, city and district officials added a “safe path” program, paying community members from four schools to provide extra safety for students on their way to school. The police also reinforced security in 25 school zones hard hit by gun violence.

Brian Johnson, manager of Bartram, said that if the cameras had been installed in January, when Christopher Braxton was killed nearby, “we would probably have an idea on the spot who shot ‘Braxton. It could also have allowed the school to hold its graduation outdoors, in the school’s newly renovated sports complex, rather than indoors.

Johnson said he moved the graduation indoors for fear of violence.

“It’s not something we want to have to think about on a special day like graduation day,” he said.

Councilor Cherelle Parker described the new cameras as a pilot program that will likely expand if successful.

“This should be standard operating procedure at all schools in the Philadelphia School District,” Parker said.

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