SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 23, 2014

New cameras monitor Peabody High

Video surveillance streamed to police, school personnel

(Continued)

Cohan said password-protected security arrangements are adequate to prevent any outsider from accessing the images. He downplayed the likelihood that the cameras could be abused.

“It’s not Big Brother,” Cohan said.

Federal funds financed the new system. Superintendent Joe Mastrocola expects that a state-of-the-art surveillance system also will be installed at the new Higgins Middle School.

At the same time, he discourages the notion that this is simply a reaction to the murder in Danvers or events like the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

“We’d do it anyway,” Mastrocola said. “Safety’s paramount. ... What we want is a clean and safe environment for the kids.”

Discussions over security issues are ongoing with the state and will impact security decisions for the new middle school, he said.

Veteran school board member Dave McGeney expressed some ambivalence regarding the cameras, saying that while he applauds the increased security, it comes at the cost of privacy.

“I’ve got some questions about it,” he said. “But anything that helps security, I’m in favor of it. ... I just want to know more of the details of the implementation. ... Who does the information get shared with? How long is it stored? Who’s evaluating it? ...

“I’m sure there are good answers to these questions, because there are thoughtful people behind this.”

Mastrocola said the information is being shared only with police and evaluated by officers and school personnel.

Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.

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