SCOTT — Hall monitoring at Acadiana High is now high-tech.
The Scott Police Department launched new technology that provides live video feeds of the campus and an integrated communications and emergency alert system.
Police officers and school administrators can now monitor the school via software called the Emergency Management and Communications System by MessageNet.
“Acadiana High is the first in the state with this technology,” said Scott Police Chief Chad Leger.
The system will enhance response to any crisis or emergency on the campus, Leger said.
“We hope we never have to use it for that,” Leger said.
A built-in alert access system sends text messages and scrolling messages to employees’ computer workstations. Such alert delivery prevents panic and “other safety issues” that may result from an intercom broadcast, Leger said.
The system was implemented as a proactive measure, Leger said.
“Our goal is to stay ahead of the game,” he said.
“We always think the worst — a barricaded gunman or another Columbine,” Leger said.
But the technology assists with the day-to-day monitoring of the school, he added.
The technology is “not just a camera system,” but provides an enhanced level of security and emergency response, said Craig Noel, chief executive officer of American Integration Contractors, the company assisted in the development of EMACS for the K-12 environment, Noel said.
He and Leger are both alumni of Acadiana High and approached principal Nikki Broussard with the concept.
Broussard said the preventive nature of the technology appealed to her.
“It gives us an edge on communication,” she said.
A Scott police officer is assigned to Acadiana High as a school resource officer.
Now, all officers have access to monitoring the school via their laptops in their patrol units, Leger said.
The system is particularly beneficial when responding to alarm calls, Leger said.
“You’re not going into the building blind,” he said. “Before you walk in you have cameras you can pop. It’s about as real as there.”
Leger offered the media a “tour” of the system at the Scott Emergency Operations Center Thursday.
The software was displayed using smartboard technology. After accessing a map of the school. Blue dots on the map marked cameras.
“These are the eyes,” he said and pointed to hash marks that designated door ways. The hash marks or doors move on the screen anytime a door is opened, he said.
Leger tapped different areas of the school where cameras are located. Live video from each location popped onto the screen. One shot showed students waiting out the rest of their lunchtime around the school’s commons area known as “the cave.” Another showed a pair of students walking down a hallway.
At least 2,000 people are on the campus daily, Broussard said.
“On a day-to-day basis it does help us because everything is live,” Broussard said.
While the existing camera system enabled a review of incidents, “it didn’t always work,” she said.
Now, the video files are easily accessible, she said.
The police department paid $32,000 for the software and integration with the existing camera system, Leger said.
Leger said he is seeking possible grant funding sources to expand the system at Acadiana High to exterior buildings — such as the stadium — and for implementation at Scott Middle School.
Leger estimated it could cost about $100,000 to implement the system at Scott Middle because only five cameras are in use at the school.
Students’ awareness of the cameras has helped curb behavior problems, said Broussard.
It’s like seeing a police car in the rearview mirror and checking your speed, she said.
“Big Brother’s watching,” Leger joked.
“And Big Sister,” Broussard added.