Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Milford police will be keeping an eye on students

Source: The News Journal

By DAN SHORTRIDGE

December 1, 2009

MILFORD -- Mark McDaniel led the group of visitors down the concrete block and Sheetrock-walled halls of the school, into classrooms with wiring poking out from the walls and underneath exposed ductwork and pipes.

When the new eighth- and ninth-grade Central Academy opens for students next fall, the walls and halls also will be sprouting an assortment of new security cameras -- as will seven other Milford schools, thanks to a nearly $500,000 federal grant announced Monday.

The entire network will be hooked up to monitors at the schools and the Milford police station, providing officers with a direct view of the situation if they're summoned to the schools, with video piped directly into their cruisers, district leaders said.

"When they pull up, they're going to know what they're facing, because of the technology that's going to be in place here," said school board President Gary Wolfe.

The Milford Police Department won the $486,040 federal community policing grant after vying with 470 other applicants for a share of $16 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The new cameras and upgraded digital recording devices also will feature a spy-like addition at the new sports stadium -- an infrared illumination system for the cameras, said Milford Police Lt. Edward Huey.

"We don't have to have bright lights to see what an intruder may be doing out there," he said.

The project also includes new alarm systems, a hazard notification system and access control systems at almost all the district's buildings. The only one to miss out is the Morris Early Childhood Center, which is out of town limits and thus outside the police department's jurisdiction.

Construction work at the Milford High School and the construction of the connected Central Academy make this a prime time to install the security systems there, Huey said. Everything should be running within 18 months, he said.

The federal funding will be matched locally by the school district, Huey said.

Part of the project includes developing a formal partnership between the district and the police department, in the form of a police advisory board, including parents and community members, district Superintendent Sharon Kanter said.

"To continue to make it work and make it happen, we need to have this open communication," she said.

Milford won the grant in part thanks to its previous experience with community policing efforts since the early 1990s, Huey said, not because the school district has any great campus crime problem.

"We have really good kids here," said Mark McDaniel, who will be principal at the new Central Academy.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del, on hand with Sen. Ted KAUFMAN, D-Del., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., to announce the funding, said students today face a much more violent and crime-ridden environment than when he was in high school, when gum-chewing was one of the biggest discipline problems.

"It's not just Columbine," he said referring to the 1999 Colorado school's shooting. "It's a problem at a lot of other schools as well."

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