Chicago Public Schools and city officials have agreed on a groundbreaking partnership that will give the Chicago Police Department and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications a remote connection to the safety cameras installed inside and outside Chicago schools, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.
"When this program is fully implemented over the next few months, we will have a comprehensive school security system that will make it far easier for us to respond more quickly and effectively to any emergency at a school building," Daley said at a news conference held at police headquarters, 3510 S. State St.
"As a City, we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect our young people and give each and every one of them a better chance for a good life. The step we’re announcing today will help us keep our young people safer when they are in and around school buildings throughout the city," the mayor said.
They will provide an additional set of eyes and ears to our efforts to protect our students," he said.
Daley and the other officials made the announcement against the backdrop of last weekend’s violence against young people during which four public school students were killed and another five wounded in separate gun incidents.
"This past weekend was not a good one in our city. We must do all we can to prevent violence against our children. But, we also have to realize that although there are many things government can and will do, that government alone can’t protect them. We have a shared responsibility with every school, every parent, every business and every resident of Chicago to protect our young people," Daley said.
"We cannot know when their lives will cross paths with the worst elements in our society - the gang, gun and drug thugs that prey on our children and take away their futures."
"But we can continue to take the kinds of steps we have been taking that will help us end the violence," the Mayor said.
Over the years, CPS has installed more safety cameras in and around their buildings to help assure safety on school grounds.
Until now, the real-time video provided by more than 4,500 cameras inside and outside about 200 public elementary and high schools and administrative sites has been accessible only to school officials.
But under the new agreement, the police department and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications will have a remote connection to the safety cameras.
Chicago is the first city in the nation to have this kind of integrated system and the first buildings are on line now. The system will be fully implemented over the next few months.
For example, it will allow first responders to an emergency situation at a school to be able to see real time video from inside and outside the building on their portable data terminals, Daley said.
"Let me make clear that routine monitoring will occur using only the outside cameras. The inside cameras will be viewable to authorized users only during emergencies."
"This new cooperative effort allows law enforcement personnel to assist the school system in monitoring the entrances and exits of our school buildings. It gives us another set of eyes to keep track of who's coming and going from the school," the Mayor said.
Daley pointed to other initiatives the city has undertaken to fight violence against young people.
"We need to continue taking guns off the streets with initiatives such as our gun turn-in program, which collected more than 6,000 weapons last year. We need to continue working to offer a solid future to our young people by improving our schools and providing more after school programs and summer time opportunities for them to be involved in positive activities during the hours they’re most vulnerable to crime and violence," Daley said.
"We need everybody—schools, police, public officials, business and community groups, churches, parents, and students—to take responsibility for getting the guns and gangs off the streets. We need everybody to stand together and say: we will not tolerate threats against the safety of our children," he said.