Security cameras installed on BHS campus

But they won’t be turned on until policies for their use are in place.

When Bainbridge High School students return to the campus next month, they’ll find the courtyard ringed by proud, newly planted trees.

They may also, if they look closely, see new security cameras overhead, installed to dissuade acts of vandalism like the destruction of trees in that same courtyard last spring.

“The destructive power of the trees being cut really brought home a sense of violation to students and staff, and the need to revisit the (security) issue,” Superintendent Ken Crawford said.

Crawford lobbied for security cameras several years ago after the campus was hit by extensive graffiti vandalism.

The administration purchased a four-camera security monitor system, but the cameras were never installed because of opposition by the BHS Site Council.

Sentiments appear to have changed after vandals cut down more than a dozen campus trees at the end of the school year.

The perpetrators were never identified.

But while the security cameras are up, they’re not yet on. The school board has yet to set policies for their use – what hours the monitors will be active, under what circumstances the tapes would be reviewed, and who would view them.

Crawford suggested that the cameras would only be outside and would only be active outside of classroom hours.

Susan Sivitz, school board president, said security system policies should be drafted so as to be “non-invasive” to campus life.

“Just because Billy steals Sally’s peanut butter sandwich at lunchtime, I don’t want Sally’s mom demanding that we look at the tape,” Sivitz said. “Cameras don’t take the place of human supervision and interaction. I think we need to make sure that we’re utillizing them properly, in a non-invasive way.”

She suggested that additional campus lighting should also be considered, with which Crawford agreed.

The security camera policy will probably be discussed at the Aug. 30 school board meeting.

Crawford said that Mercer Island High School has had security cameras inside and out, running at all hours of the day, for seven years.

“The fact that we’re using them only for the prevention of vandalism outside of school hours is pretty conservative,” he said.

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