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130 cameras will be eyes in Franklin Regional schools for police

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By Amanda Dolasinski and Adam Brandolph
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Cameras streaming real-time video from inside Franklin Regional School District buildings to Murrysville police cars soon will give officers crucial information in dealing with potentially dangerous situations, officials said.

Not only will police be able to view images from 130 cameras mounted inside the schools, they will have access to digital floor plans for each building, said Murrysville police Chief Tom Seefeld.

“It will give us eyes on the outside (before going in),” Seefeld said.

The system is expected to be fully operational at the end of the month, he said.

Although the project was under way long before the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last year, it will provide officers life-saving information in a similar situation, Seefeld said.

“We'll be prepared for anything that would happen,” he said.

Seefeld said in the event of a problem, information from the cameras will be useful not just to police, but to all emergency responders.

District spokeswoman Shelley Shaneyfelt said, “we also believe that this coordination acts as a deterrent to vandalism and other potential crimes.”

The project began in 2009 when Murrysville officials worked with former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire to obtain a $100,000 federal grant to purchase software to operate the cameras.

Franklin Regional, with 3,700 students, is the latest among local districts streaming real-time video to police departments.

Ross police have access to video from cameras at the North Hills School District's junior and senior high schools, said Detective Brian Kohlhepp.

The district is working with the police department to connect the district's four elementary schools, as well, Kohlhepp said.

The Peters Township School District has cameras feeding images from its schools to police, said Peters police Chief Harry Fruecht.

“As a result of everything that's happened in this world, we're progressively trying to improve the school's security every time we do a review,” Fruecht said. “I pray to God we never have to use them, like so many other things we have.”

Officials in the Greensburg Salem School District had hoped to implement the same technology but were unable to obtain a grant for the software.

Amanda Dolasinski and Adam Brandolph are staff writers for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com

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