Money set for security at schools

Closed-circuit cameras for monitoring lobbies to be bought with grant

$158,000 from Justice Dept.

Recreation, gun safety programs will receive portion

June 10, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

To improve security at public schools and teach children about the dangers of guns, Howard County officials plan to use federal funds to pay for closed-circuit television cameras and educational programs.

The initiatives are long-planned and not related to the shootings in Colorado or Georgia, officials say.

Ten county schools will receive a total of $7,940 to install closed-circuit television cameras to monitor their lobbies, something they cannot do now. Another school -- the Gateway School -- will receive $5,050 for cameras, videocassette recorders and walkie-talkies.

Gateway Principal Larry Cohen said the cameras and videocassette recorders could help monitor and capture student misbehavior and replay it if necessary. The alternative school serves about 100 disruptive students.

"I think to tell parents what happened and then let them see what their children are doing would help," Cohen said. "It is something we are considering."

Cohen said the school will install two to four cameras, and is considering putting them in the main lobby, cafeteria and some hallways.

Cameras also will be installed at 10 schools where the front door is not visible to the main office, a design problem that makes it difficult for administrators to monitor who is coming into the building.

The cameras "will give [school administrators] a way to see the front door from the office," said Patti Caplan, Howard County schools spokeswoman.

The list of 10 schools is being made final. School officials plan to have the cameras installed by the next school year, Caplan said.

Police Chief Wayne Livesay chaired a county committee in charge of allocating a $158,000 federal law enforcement grant, which requires the county to contribute $17,571. Officials say $15,000 will continue a summer recreational program for youths at Long Reach High School, and $10,054 will go toward a youth program sponsored by Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.

"They teach kids not to touch guns," Livesay said of the latter program. "It also tells them what to do if they see a gun."

Board decides use

County officials first learned in February that they would receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Since then, a 12-member advisory board composed of police, health, state's attorney, school and detention center officials has been deciding how to divide the funds among the 15 countywide applicants.

The federal government "identified several general program areas they wanted the money to go to," said Tami Bulla, of the Police Department's research and planning unit. The advisory committee decided "what best met those criteria."

Others to benefit

The group also allocated $96,000 to the Police Department for a prisoner transport program; $27,300 for added security measures at the Department of Corrections; $8,755 to create a partnership program between the police and Harper's Choice Village Center; $3,000 for the coalition for a Smoke Free Howard County to ensure that businesses are complying with smoking regulations; and $2,610 for the state's attorney's office for technology training and equipment.

Pub Date: 6/10/99

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