HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico students now have new security technology at their schools, after the district upgraded its surveillance cameras.
Henrico County Public Schools told 8News on Monday that they updated security cameras at about 20 schools.
Lenny Pritchard, the chief of operations with the school district, said they routinely evaluate and monitor the security systems every few years to ensure it’s working properly.
“Safety should be and is at the forefront of everything we do. It is one of the cornerstones in Henrico County Schools,” he said.
The new cameras have a higher resolution, and they let staff search video quicker than having to sort through hours of footage.
The school district said this could come in handy during an investigation for a possible fight, where an administrator may look for a person’s physical appearance, clothing or backpack to identify them.
However, these new features have some families concerned about their students’ privacy.
Miguel Orengo, a parent of a Henrico Schools student, said while the goal is to protect students — it could be used for the wrong reasons.
“As a father, like if they’re looking for a backpack and there’s three or four different students with the same backpack and somebody gets accused of the wrong thing, then that’s a problem,” he said.
However, the school system assured families that this tool is not a stand-alone source of information.
They also said images are not saved to a database nor are they typically shared with police, unless an incident requires the agency’s involvement.
Pritchard added that the security cameras are just one part of the school district’s security measures.
“The camera system is just one layer of multilayers that we do and provide at all of our schools,” he said.
Henrico Schools’ safety and security plan also includes camera buzz-in systems, vestibule entryways, school resource officers and school security staff.
Orengo added that he could also view this as being a good thing.
“I think it will help to a certain extent. It will protect our students, the kids in school, that will be good one way,” Orengo said.
Patrick Miller, the President of the Henrico Education Association, said he echoes the same concerns from some families.
In a statement to 8News, he wrote, “It’s a sad irony that surveillance technology disproportionately targets people of color despite it being far less accurate when it comes identifying them.”
“The sad facts show demonstrably that heightened surveillance and additional police do not prevent the worst case scenario, and I agree with parents that properly maintaining facilities and appropriately training staff would be a much better use of the county’s resources.”