Security at East Providence’s secondary schools will be beefed up if the budget commission approves the spending of a federal grant at its meeting this afternoon in City Hall.
The East Providence Police Department wants to continue a project to add access-control equipment to the city’s two middle schools, Martin and Riverside, and the Career and Technical school next to the high school, said Det. Lt. Michael David.
The police department also wants to add 16 more cameras to the 15 that are already installed in the hallways, staircases and common areas at the high school, he said.
Total cost of the security equipment is around $40,000, David said. The money is coming from a Homeland Security fund earmarked for the Providence urban area. East Providence is part of that area.
The access-control equipment includes cameras that will be aimed at the entrances to the middle schools and career centers and an intercom system that allows a secretary or a principal in the office to talk with a visitor at the front door of the school.
“Our goal is to provide secure access at the primary entrance point to all the schools so that personnel are aware of all the people who enter and exist the buildings,” David said.
All of the elementary schools have the access-control equipment, he said. Not the secondary schools.
The high school cannot rely on one camera to scan whomever comes and goes because of its layout and more than one entrance. So the police department is using a system of cameras that provide feeds to police officers responding to a report of an incident in the school. The feed is exactly the same feed that the school office can see every minute of the day.
“If there is an incident,” David said, “the cameras will send a feed to three tablets. Police officers can log into the remote feed and get a view before they arrive at the school.”
David said the cameras will not be used by police to keep an eye on high school students.
“It is limited for use as needed,” he said, “primarily incident response.”
The beefing up of security is a joint effort by the police and the schools, David said. Toney Feola, a facility supervisor for the schools, for instance, provided guidance as to “where to put the cameras in the high school.”
David said the grant, part of the Urban Area Security Initiative, can only be used for physical security items – such as cameras and intercom systems. With approval today from the budget commission, he said, the cameras could be installed by the end of March.