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Front Page October 2, 2009  RSS feed

Safe and Sound

Police keep an eye on Fitchburg High School BY CAROLINE KERAS CKERAS@FITCHBURGPRIDE.COM

Officer Dominic LaPosta shows the new system that was installed in his cruiser to help he and other officers see inside Fitchburg High School without having to go inside the building. PRIDE PHOTO/ CAROLINE KERAS Officer Dominic LaPosta shows the new system that was installed in his cruiser to help he and other officers see inside Fitchburg High School without having to go inside the building. PRIDE PHOTO/ CAROLINE KERAS The Fitchburg Police Department now has the ability to keep students at Fitchburg High School a little safer, thanks to a generous gift from Emergency Surveillance Systems, a company based out of Glendale, Ariz.

Before, every time an alarm was triggered at the school, officers were forced to blindly enter the building, not fully knowing the issue that caused that alarm.

"The gap is that law enforcement cannot see inside the building," said Rich Kelly, of Emergency Surveillance Systems during a recent press conference.

As a way of allowing the company to test their product, the high school allowed them to install the system for free.

"The equipment is established. Now they are testing it on us," said Trevor Bonilla, the director of Information Technology for Fitchburg.

The company worked with officials from the Police Department, Fitchburg High School, and the Information Technology Department to install surveillance technology in one of the police cruisers for free.

They also placed a DVR on the premises, and connected it to the eight cameras that were already installed in the school in order to complete the system. That DVR is linked to video inside the police car, and allows the officer to see inside the school from a great distance away.

"One-thousand feet is what they advertise," said Bonilla.



After a new antenna is placed on the school grounds, officers will be able to park even further away, out of the sight of any people who may be causing problems at the school and safely assess the danger of a situation, or see if it is simply a false alarm.

"What it does is give us a clear picture of what we are getting ourselves into," said Police Chief Robert DeMoura.

There is also the potential for officers to be able to hear inside the school, if the camera has audio, and to manipulate the camera in different directions from the cruiser.

"It depends on the capability of the school," said Kelly.

Because Emergency Surveillance Systems used the cameras that were already in the school, officers cannot hear or move the cameras.

They have the ability to add eight more cameras onto the DVR that is currently installed, and to add more units themselves, which could mean upgraded cameras.

"If they want additional units configured, such as in a state cruiser we can do that," said Kelly.

This may be a possibility because of the cost of the system to the city.

"The gift at the high school is a perpetual gift," said Kelly.

This gift also includes the training required to use the system, and according to the Police Department, means that all 48 patrol officers on the force will be trained to use the system. They want to train the street supervisors to use it as well.

If the program proves to be successful, installation of the system in the other schools in the district will be looked at soon.




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