Classes resumed today for more than 270,000 students in the Broward County (Fla.) district, and they were greeted with added security on campuses, more surveillance cameras and a new monitoring system that gives the Sheriff’s Office access to video feeds in real time.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the sheriff's office unveiled a $2 million Real Time Crime Center in Fort Lauderdale enables deputies to tap into video feeds from more than 10,000 cameras in more than 260 schools across Broward County.
“The message ... is that the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff himself, the entire command staff, all the county commissioners are doing every single thing we can in our power to ensure their safety,” says Broward County Sheriff's Captain Michael Riggio. “That is the most important mission — to save lives and protect the safety of all residents and the students.”
School security has become an urgent priority in Broward County since a Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 students and staff members dead and 17 more injured.
Riggio says the 2,600-square-foot center is a collaboration among the school district, the sheriff's office and the county commission.
The room has a video wall that can show feeds from 20 work stations.
“We learned lessons from Stoneman Douglas,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony says. “One of the pivotal things we were able to witness and look at was the ability to have real-time intelligence when crimes are happening.”
A pilot program of the real-time center began in January. Since then, the Threat Management Unit — which focuses on identifying high-risk individuals who may cause violence — has investigated 175 cases, resulting in 41 arrests.
What the center does is allows deputies to give “tactical guidance” in real time to those on scene.
For example, at the end of the 2018-19 school year, A 911 call said that a student who had graduated had returned to a school and wasn’t supposed to be there. Deputies viewing video at the center spotted the student in a stairwell and guided deputies at the school to where the student was.
Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie says the district has added 521 school safety personnel and 2,500 cameras, and is spending $53 million on safety.
“This partnership is about collaboration,” Runcie says. “It’s about leveraging technology that we have in the district and it’s about leadership coming together. Because keeping our schools ... and keeping our kids safe is not just a school district responsibility, it’s all of our responsibilities.”
VIDEO from the Broward County Sheriff's Office: