FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Security at all middle and high schools in Fresno is expected to get tighter. Fresno Unified School District will be installing $3.5 million in security cameras and new lighting at the schools.
The Fresno Unified School Board gave final approval for the project at it's meeting Wednesday night. In December of 2013, Fresno Police officers rushed to Edison High School's campus after a teacher is shot. Administrators and detectives frantically searched for the suspects, relying on witnesses' information and only grainy security camera footage. Now, Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson says they'll have better tools on their side to keep students and staff safe.
Hanson said, "These are learning environments. These are central hubs for the community, these are to be valued and celebrated and we're going to protect that."
Hanson announced the district's $3.5 million investment in 900 high definition security cameras that will be installed at all 30 middle and high schools. All of Fresno Unified's high schools will also be getting new lighting.
Hanson said, "Next, we will be moving into our parking lots and exterior lighting at the high schools and moving to LED lighting upgrades. This will be better, sharper, clearer lighting and it will cost less."
The upgrades hope to be a vast improvement to the school's existing security systems and be a new tool for the district's off-hours dispatch system and Fresno Police.
Several schools, including Ahwahnee Middle School, were the targets of thieves over winter break, with most of the suspects smashing windows and doors to get to tablets and laptops.
Hanson said, "Very clearly from Fresno Unified we want everyone to know - thieves beware."
Hanson says the new system hopes to deter crime and even prevent fights on campus.
Hanson explained, "A fight in a quad at lunch time with lots of kids around and nobody knows who started it well, go look at the tape."
Some students are wary that the cameras will be overused and could interfere with their privacy. Most of them and parents say the new security measures are welcome on campus.
Johnny Canales, Sunnyside High School student said, "For break-ins it's good here in Fresno. It's crazy. It's going to help out a lot."
Consuelo Saldana, a parent, said, "I think it's good. I think all schools should have it because there's too much vandalism and there's a lot of things that go on they need to check on."
Administrators say the new security cameras and LED lighting will be installed as soon as possible with some of the schools' systems up and running by spring break.