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Niles school district enhances security system

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NILES, Mich. - The Niles Community School District is improving its security system with help from the state.

The district was awarded over $440,000 from the Michigan State Police Competitive School Safety Grant. Now, there will be updated surveillance cameras that will be able to notify school staff and police directly.

With more and more districts dealing with deadly school shootings around the country, Niles is adding extra security.

“If you’re just at work and hey your daughter just got shot, your son just got shot oh my god. Why didn’t the school do something? Now ours is. Lead by example,” Curtis Sheldon, one parent said.

Niles Community School District is adding more security measures and improving its camera system.

After getting bids, the state awarded the district over $440,000 for the system last year, which the district had to match with 25%.

“It gives us better security and a better view. It uses people’s time in a much better way. Instead of having someone physically walking around, they can just pop up a camera and see if there’s activity in a certain space,” Tracy Hertsel, the Director of Student Support Services for Niles Community Schools said.

There are 240 cameras in the district’s 8 buildings that are all motion-sensored.

The main difference between their old system and the new one, Hertsel says is the online component.

“Now we can access it by computer or laptop or even on our phones,” he said.

The cameras can also listen for gunshots and instantly notify police if the unthinkable does happen.

“It’s going to get law enforcement, they can actually see what’s going on before they get to a building,” he said.

Their current cameras are outdated and can only hold day’s worth of data. The new system runs 24 hours a day and can hold 30 to 60 days of video.

Some parents ABC57 spoke to are wary about the changes and the message they send to students and families.

“I don’t know what it’s like in a high school these days and if the administration felt this is important then okay I’ll support that decision, I just wish it was communicated a little better,” Laura Hollister, one parent said.

Others say this is a great idea.

“With everything that’s been going on, the bullying, the school shootings. I don’t know what I would do as a parent if I got a call from a school saying ‘hey your daughter was just shot,’” Sheldon said. “Protect something from happening and it starts here. Starts with security.”

School officials say they hope to add even more cameras to the 240 already in place.

The new security system should be up and running completely by June 1st.

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