by Debby Oliverio
Students at Bridgeport Middle School may be getting the feeling they are being watched É and for good reason. The recent addition of security cameras throughout the school will now allow 24-hour monitoring of the building, inside and out.
School Principal Frank Devono said the installation was part of a decision made two years ago by the Harrison County Board of Education to add security cameras to all of the county's secondary schools.
Devono said the cameras are located in all hallways, near all exits and entrances, in the gymnasium and cafeteria, outside all restrooms and in the back parking lot area.
The images are fed directly into the main office where tapes can be reviewed as needed.
Besides security, the cameras will aid in day-to-day discipline and with various safety issues, said Devono, who believes the system may serve as a deterrent.
Sally Cann, president of the Harrison County Board of Education, said that hopefully the cameras will "stop potential problems before they arise."
All high schools are now equipped with cameras and are being added to the middle schools, she said.
Cann also said that the school board has enacted a countywide anonymous help line where individuals can call a toll-free number to report a potentially dangerous or suspicious situation.
This help line is just one of several new prevention plans the school board has recently adopted in order to ensure school safety, she said.
Cann believes that while safety can't be legislated, and nothing can fully stop potential acts of violence, "we should do everything we can to be prepared for it."
Shirley Brown, a sixth-grade teacher at Bridgeport Middle School, has been teaching for 29 years, and said she felt the addition of the new cameras was a necessity. Brown said the entire faculty at the school also went through a safety and security-training program.
By using a series of codes, teachers and students are alerted should different types of emergencies arise. Having drills to help students learn these codes has been discussed and some type of readiness program could begin as early as the spring, Cann said.
Although there hasn't been any real problem with security or safety at the school, Brown said she feels the school is definitely prepared for it.
All Harrison County secondary schools should be equipped with security cameras by the end of the school year, said Cann.