Vanguard of Interior Cameras Operating at High School

January 16, 2024

School officials have announced the installation of the vanguard of security cameras in common areas of Bedford High School.

“We were able to find some current-year operational facilities savings to direct $60,000 towards this initial tranche of 16 cameras,” Superintendent of Schools Cliff Chuang said in an email last week.

BHS Principal Heather Galante, in a recent letter to the school community, said that during the December vacation, cameras were placed in corridors, the lobby, the cafeteria, and outside doors. 

“The high school administrative team is in the process of learning about how to access the equipment for security and investigative purposes,” Galante wrote. 

Cameras will not be installed in classrooms and bathrooms, according to a policy approved by the School Committee.

Chuang said 108 cameras were recommended by a school district’s safety and security consultant “for full coverage of common areas.” He has said he hopes the remainder can be added in the spring if Town Meeting approves the capital allocation in March.

School professional and student leaders welcomed the addition. 

“The absence of cameras has compromised the safety of our building on many occasions,” Galante wrote. “The installation of cameras will not disrupt the school day and will not replace our commitment to building trusting relationships with our students. Instead, this should serve as a reminder of how much we value both their emotional and physical safety.”

Vivian Liu, a BHS junior and a member of the Safety and Security Task Force, endorsed the action. 

“It’s a significant development taking us one step closer to becoming a better school,” she said in an email. “With the cameras, issues in the school can be worked out in real-time, effectively solving problems and reducing the possibility of them happening in the first place.”

Since there were no security cameras, Liu said, “Incidents were difficult to resolve. Administration worked hard to sort out these issues, but it was a long and tedious process. It feels good to know that there is an added layer of security, using technological advancements to make the school a safe place.”

Another junior, Shreyes Shivappa, said, “Knowing that it makes our building safer, I think we feel more comfortable that administration has eyes in case of an emergency. They are a regular part of life outside of school, so it is not much different inside. If something goes wrong, it is easier for the (assistant) principals to find the issue. Hopefully, this prevents some unnecessary discipline problems.” 

Last fall Chuang announced plans to accelerate installation of about 75 percent of the planned BHS cameras over winter break, using funds originally allocated for outside security enhancements such as bullet-proof glass. That schedule was thwarted by the specific language in the 2023 Town Meeting allocation. 

But the superintendent said he would take whatever prioritization steps he could after School Committee approval of a district-wide safety and security policy. 

“We will be able to address the rest of the cameras – and more of the door security – in phase two of the safety plan, with the additional capital funds, assuming the town approves them in March,” Chuang said last week.

Liu said the Safety and Security Task Force “did a lot of work last year learning about threats and advocating for security cameras.” She said she and Shivappa met not only with a specialist from Boston Children’s Hospital but also with State Rep. Ken Gordon and other legislators to add to their research.

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