St. Johns County making progress on replacing outdated school surveillance cams

The St. Johns County School District is replacing its broken, outdated surveillance cameras.

These changes come after an Action News Jax Investigation in November uncovered 109 school surveillance cameras were broken.

That was 6 percent of the district’s cameras.

The district is replacing all of its cameras with a system that will allow deputies to watch that footage live.

“Since we’ve had a lot of dangerous settings in schools around the country, I’m really concerned about my kids’ safety and I am all for that,” said Chandra James, a mother of two teens who attend St. Johns County public school.

The district is making progress on upgrading to a centralized camera system that allows the district and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office to view any camera from a single screen.

District spokesperson Christina Langston would not go into specifics about how far along they are in the process for security reasons.

A slide from a spring school board workshop said the district’s IT department is “actively enhancing school camera systems which includes SJSO access.”

“Whatever keeps our kids safe, I’m all for it,” said James.

Putnam, Nassau and Clay County school districts are all working to give law enforcement departments access to camera feeds, too.

Clay County Education Association President Renna Lee Paiva said all the cameras in Clay County schools are in commons areas, like hallways.

She said they’re never mounted in classrooms, to protect the privacy of teachers and students.

“We've applied for a grant in conjunction with the Putnam County School District as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act to help fund the costs associated with the live feed. There were two parts to the grant - we've already utilized funds for Guardians and additional Youth Resource. The part we have now applied for is more the equipment for live feeds and other technology, such as new radios for our youth resource deputies,” said Putnam County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Allison Waters-Merritt.

Duval County Public Schools have no plans to give the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office access to live feeds because Duval County Public School police already have access to surveillance systems.

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