Five security cameras in place at NHS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2001

In the past few weeks a new presence has entered the lives of students at Natchez High School.

Five cameras placed in high traffic areas of campus are almost acting like eyes in the sky watching students and making them more accountable for their actions, said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

&uot;This is just one more step that we’re taking to help our youth become positive, productive adults,&uot; said Natchez High School Principal Brenda Williams.

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Some students said the cameras seemed like an invasion of privacy, but one 15-year-old said he did not have a problem with them.

&uot;You shouldn’t be doing anything that you don’t want seen on school campus,&uot;&160;he said.

Another measure the Natchez-Adams School District is taking to improve security is hiring four police officers with a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Starting with the 2001-02 school year, two officers will be stationed at the high school, one at Central Alternative School and one at Natchez Middle School.

School officials said the officers would be veterans who will also teach classes in safety.

They also selected police officers they think have an interest in working with students.

&uot;They will be police officers who are caring,&uot; said Dr. Wayne Barnett, director of student activities, security and safety. &uot;They want to be there and they want to develop that relationship with young people.&uot;

The cameras are connected to a video server and take pictures every few seconds. The idea is to be able to correctly identify students who misbehave, fight or cause problems on campus.

One advantage to having the cameras is that only students who make bad choices need to worry.

&uot;We will not falsely accuse anybody and that’s very important,&uot; Williams said.

Since installing the cameras this month, the school officials have not needed to call on them in response to any problem

The cameras captured one altercation but the district was able to identify the students without looking at the pictures, officials said.

The Natchez-Adams School District has long-term plans to increase the number of cameras at the high school and to next add cameras to the middle school campus.

Even though officials view all of these steps as proactive, they also say they can only complement what is already in place.

&uot;I do not want anyone to get the idea we’re trying to replace people (or) teachers with equipment,&uot; Barnett said.