Security cameras help keep local schools safe
While everyone hopes tragedies like the school shooting in Connecticut never happen in our community, school districts in the La Crosse area are always working to be as prepared as possible.
Schools' emergency plans are constantly being updated with input and advice from local law enforcement officials.
The news of the tragic school shooting hit La Crosse School District Superintendent Randy Nelson hard.
"As it unfolded and became clear that it was a mass tragedy that included several students and teachers, it's very emotional, very emotional," said Nelson.
It's a sad reminder of just how important the lockdown practices and security plans are in the La Crosse School District.
"One of the things we do in our district is we practice lockdowns with our students; we practice them frequently -- several times per year. We also make an effort to make our buildings safe by ensuring that once the school day starts, all of our doors are locked," Nelson.
While keeping an eye on every school can be a challenge, schools and law enforcement have some help.
"We can go to an elementary school to a high school within just a matter of seconds," said Buildings and Grounds Manager Jason Showen.
In 2009, the district installed security cameras in all of its school buildings.
"We have access to all of the cameras district-wide on one computer," said Showen. "Right now, the police have access to all of the video."
"The new technologies that have come out have made the security cameras very affordable and also have provided very good, clear images that allow us to look into every hallway of every single school at any time," said Nelson.
There are 225 cameras in all, which police officers will soon be able to access from their squad cars.
"We're currently working with the police on setting up remote access through cars or city dispatch so they can access that from any point," said Showen.
While the cameras may not prevent tragedies, they could be a key tool to stop them in progress.
"Those security cameras have made a great impact for us. They've helped us in a lot of different ways and certainly stand to help us should anything of this nature occur," said Nelson.
School officials in La Crosse and La Crescent say all school districts in both Minnesota and Wisconsin are required by the state to perform practice lockdowns throughout the school year.
Onalaska and West Salem schools also have cameras to which law enforcement officers have access, as an added safety measure
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