Public schools

Albuquerque's Solution for School Safety: Total Surveillance


Albuquerque school surveillance

Rare though they are, horrific events like the Newtown shooting inevitably provoke a variety of responses. The intent is to head off a recurrence of the sort of crime that, truth be told, very likely can't be completely prevented, if for no other reason than that so many of the perpetrators seemingly have little interest in surviving their deeds. But some of the responses, like encouraging people to take responsibility for defending themselves and those around them, offer the possibility of reducing the damage done by rampage killers. Some responses, like gun restrictions and video-game censorship, put widespread civil liberties at the mercy of opportunistic control freaks. And some responses seem designed to turn public schools into replica prisons. On that last point, I'm talking about Albuquerque's scheme for multi-school surveillance, centrally monitored at the Albuquerque Public Schools Police headquarters dispatch center.

That Albuquerque actually has something called "Public Schools Police" is a strong clue that the local educational establishment has been wandering down the road to Sing Sing for quite some time, now. So the network of surveillance cameras isn't a new thing — but it's growing and probably not likely to face any budgetary pressure or policy challenges in the near future. As KRQE Reports:

The digital cameras are motion activated, grabbing onto people as they move. They're in hallways, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds and parking lots.

"Someone watching the camera can see if a person comes on campus who doesn't belong there, and they can immediately call help if they need to or go to the door and see who the person is," explained Lt. Rider. "They can address them before they even enter the campus."

So far they've helped solve vandalism and even keep an eye on teachers, but they're also tracking students.

You think they're creepy? Why do you hate children? Well, that's the likely response to anybody raising even the mildest objections to authoritarian power-grabs that are justified in the name of keeping the little darlings out of harm's way. Though it's a bit difficult to fathom the benefits of a security system based on centrally monitored video cameras when "officers can not be everywhere" and, in fact, may be nowhere near the school in question. You'd think something a bit more flexible and on-the-spot would make more sense.

But then, nobody would get to sit in a room, watching kids on a mosaic of video feeds. And besides, "APS also uses the cameras for other things. Monday they used them to monitor weather conditions especially at their East Mountain campuses."

NEXT: NASA Releases Satellite Photos of China Air Pollution

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  1. Albuquerque means “white oak.” Like Baton Rouge means “red stick.”

    1. You’re a special boy Ralph Wigum.

    2. But “white” in Spanish is “Blanco”. What language is it named in?

      1. It’s a Portuguese name from Latin alba (white) quercus (cork oak).

      2. Boca Raton? Rat’s mouth. Notre Dame? Our mother.

  2. Can the cameras return fire?

    1. The TOW missile attachment is extra.

    2. Can the cameras return fire?

      Nope. They just like to watch. Bow-chicka-bowbow.

  3. “Someone watching the camera can see if a person comes on campus who doesn’t belong there”

    And someone watching the someone watching the camera can see if a person is doing a diligent job. It’s watchers — and JOBZ — all the way down!

    1. How in fuck can you see, through a video camera, whether someone belongs there?

  4. Hooray, my hometown makes the Reason blog. My mother teaches for APS at one of the city’s more prestigious school (which is like saying the best mug of swill from the bottom of the barrel), and loves nothing better than to talk ears off about the nightmare which is the local and municipal administration. But privatizing the mess? Out of the question.

    1. “You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.”

      1. At the risk of seeming defensive, let me add that she’s an intelligent woman and a stubborn teacher. She expects that students graduating an American high school should have a rudimentary grasp of English grammar, that her honors students should be capable of interpreting literature, and that her AP students should possess formidable written proficiency. This has not endeared her to administration, which deals with the angry calls from parents whose underachievers aren’t making the A’s they expect.

        1. I think more so than the noncompetitive nature of the system, with all the public-choice implications, this is the problem with attempting to tackle such dinosaurs. Otherwise reasonable people like mom still earnestly believe that the alternative to public education is education reserved exclusively for the elite, and because by definition she’s an exceptional teacher, she doesn’t recognize that the system already caters almost exclusively to the elites. In doing so it channels a lot of mediocre students through additional years of unproductive makework in preparation for an expensive, and in many cases fruitless, stint in college.

  5. Albuquerque’s Solution for School Safety: Total Surveillance

    Has no one learned yet that “Surveillance” is actually completely ineffective in “stopping violence *before* it happens”?

    All it provides is a video archive for ‘authority’ to employ in tracking down perpetrators and punishing them, or to provide some protections from legal liability

    in other words, it simply makes life easier for “the authorities” while doing nothing for the actual people that said ‘security’ is ostensibly supposed to protect

    Anecdote =

    My subway station goes directly into a tunnel under the east river. After 9/11, ‘authorities’ wet their pants realizing how vulnerable these locations were (literally anyone could just walk down one of these tunnels, blow something up, and cause serious @#$*&@#) death and destruction. Many millions of dollars were allocated to increased Subway Security, etc. Below link is an example of the drama, 10yrs later…

    Well, after half a billion bucks spent, all they have in these tunnels is a camera, and a little toll-booth like box on the platform, where some unlucky, demoted police officer sits all day with 2 closed-circuit screens… and most of the time the dude is playing video games, or SLEEPING (i took pictures once)

    In short, surveillance-as-security in the end fall short of even “Security Theatre”… and ultimately necessitates *real people* to monitor the *machines*, creating a permanent suck on resources to no positive effect whatsoever


      …””The original security program was a part of the 2000-2004 Capital Plan, submitted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, the MTA expected to spend $591 million on a variety of security improvements targeting the most vulnerable and high-trafficked areas. Spending has ballooned to $882 million, and as we approach the 11th anniversary of the attacks, the electronic monitoring project, seemingly the centerpiece of Phase 1, is not expected to be ready until June 2014. By itself, it will cost $516 million, nearly double the original projection.

      Electronic monitoring is fairly self-explanatory. The MTA plans to install 3000 cameras and 1400 access-control devices that are to be monitore at six area command centers and one central command center. Once this monitoring system is up and running, though, the challenges do not stop. As DiNapoli said, “Once installed, maintaining these devices in the mass transit environment will be an ongoing challenge.”

      indeed. As of 2013…

      The MTA’s Tortured Path to Subway Security”

      …..””None of the roughly 2,000 cameras that Lockheed installed in the subway are fully hooked up to surveillance rooms where employees can monitor them.

      MTA Chairman Jay Walder declines to speculate on what went wrong.

      “It’s hard to look backwards. I think decisions were taken at the time,” Walder says

    2. in short = the NYC MTA’s response to 9/11 is a case study in why the DO SOMETHING!!-attitude in reacting to a disaster/security failure generally results in

      a) an enormous waste of money and resources

      b) unecessary restrictions/violations of people’s civil liberties

      c) the creation of new layers of bureaucracy (e.g. DHS!) which themselves become a source of new problems

      …and much, much more! none of it good!

      Worst of all is probably the utter inability to *get rid* of these horrible ideas/practices when it finally becomes comepletely apparent to everyone that they are an unmitigated disaster…because these things now have *a constituency*

      e.g. The National Union of Surveillance Monitors! – or usually, a few politicians who can’t bring themselves to admit they *ever made a mistake*.

      e.g. “..decisions were made at the time!”

    3. Even after the fact, if anyone involved in security fucks up or fucks off on the job, the video somehow disappears.

  6. Seems like the best way to keep the little ones out of harm’s way is to keep them out of government buildings in the first place.

    1. You want kids working sweatshops, instead? What kind of monster are you? #excludedmiddle

  7. In that screenshot, I think you can see the parking lot where Walter White spins donuts and then torches the new Dodge Challenger he bought for Walter Jr.

    1. That’s Sheriff White to you, plebe.

  8. lol, a video camera wont stop a maniac. An armed teacher however, will!

  9. Clearly the Albuquerque authorities who left open the bathroom loophole are undermining the security of our schools. If you like your children free of bulletholes, then we need cameras in every bathroom stall.

  10. Texas school districts have their own police forces. They seem to spend most of their time running speed traps in schools zones and getting blow jobs from students.

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