HISD admits no one monitoring school security cameras


by Scott Noll / KHOU 11 News


Posted on February 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM

HOUSTON – A fight caught on camera inside the halls of Booker T. Washington High School has parents wanting answers.

They can’t believe someone could just walk in off the streets and attack a student inside the building.

But the KHOU 11 News I-Team has uncovered how easily that may go undetected.

For weeks, we’ve been telling you about problems with HISD’s security cameras.

We exposed how the district is leaving the cameras broken for weeks, months and even a year.

But it also turns out, even if the cameras are working, in most cases, no one is watching them.

HISD admits the multi-million dollar system of more than 12,000 cameras on 279 campuses is often unmonitored.

“There's no way, as a practical matter, to have someone sitting at a monitor keeping tabs on 12,000 cameras,” HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer told the I-Team.“It wouldn't be a good use of resources.”

Instead, the district says security recordings are generally used after-the-fact and reviewed only after an incident has happened.

But Pat Murphy, a security consultant and expert with more than 35 years of experience, says that’s a mistake.

Murphy believes HISD is missing the point.

He says by actively watching the video feeds from cameras, schools could potentially spot trouble before an attacker gets inside a building and gets access to students and staff.

“Those seconds may be critical to the entire student body in being able to get into a lockdown position for an active shooter, or it may be as simple as being able to notify someone who is close to a particular door and say someone just came in a particular door, please go check this person and ask them to leave the building,” said Murphy.

A school district spokesperson says the fight at Booker T. Washington High remains under investigation, and no arrests have been made.

HISD said the school’s cameras were working at the time.