New security cameras provide sharper images of school safety

When director of security for Danville Public Schools Dave Cochran began his demonstration of Bonner Middle School’s new security system, school security officer Melissa Miller was in the midst of catching a couple of troublemakers in gym class.

She was looking for a few students who were apparently pulling up the tape on the basketball court while waiting for class to start.

With a click of the mouse, she opened up the gymnasium camera to fill the 42-inch monitor, one of six screens in the station.

Sure enough, a couple of students were messing with the floor. Brower zoomed in with the mouse, and the students’ faces were clearly visible on the HD screen.

Bonner’s security system was upgraded last August, after a year of increased discipline issues and police activity at the middle school.

A similar system is set to be installed soon at George Washington High School, after the school snagged nearly $100,000 in grant funds from the state of Virginia.

“It’s time to update them now,” Cochran said.

At the high school, Cochran and security officer Betty Brower demonstrated the old system, installed in 2006.

Four small 11-inch monitors scrolled through the school’s camera feeds.

The only way to record vid-eo was from VHS tape, so only a few days can be stored on the cameras at a time.

“There’s just a better product out there now than there was in 2006,” Cochran said. “These have done amazing for all these years.”

At Bonner, the difference in image quality is immediately clear. Miller said she could almost instantly indentify a student almost anywhere on campus.

Bringing up one of the school’s two outside pan-and-zoom cameras, she zoomed in across the street to the café and fire station on Piney Forest Road, and pointed out the legible signs around the properties.

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