SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – After law enforcement officers discovered they were watching a delay on the surveillance system while responding to the Parkland shooting, News 6 investigated how our local school districts use security cameras.
Authorities relied on surveillance video to track the shooter's moves while inside the high school but later said there was a 20-minute delay on the footage. They were preparing to confront the gunman, only to learn he had left the school.
The announcement of that discovery is prompting News 6 to ask Central Florida school districts about their security cameras.
School officials would not release specific details, but they said they all use surveillance systems.
In Orange County, school officials said they have security cameras at school, but could not discuss safety measures, such as how often they are checked and if law enforcement has access to them.
In Osceola County, district officials confirmed they use security cameras and said they work closely with law enforcement so they have immediate access to real-time video as needed. School officials also said there is a dedicated team at the district who spends all of their time making sure the cameras are working.
Brevard County school officials said they are in the process of installing one video camera per school at the "single point of access" created by security fencing and gates. Those are the only cameras Brevard County is installing. The goal is to be done in April. The cameras will deliver a live signal to the school and to district security in Viera.
In Lake County, school officials said they use security cameras, but would not provide additional details.
Sumter County officials said they use security cameras with a live feed. School resource officers, school administrators, and the superintendent have access to the video feeds.
In Flagler County, district officials said they have cameras in schools that are live and not on a delay. Officials said law enforcement knows how to access them and they have not had any issues in the past.
Volusia County district officials would not release information about their security cameras. The Sheriff's Office released security camera footage from inside the cafeteria at Spruce Creek High School earlier this month of a student's confrontation with a deputy.
In Marion County, school officials said they use security cameras in schools that are live and recorded. School administrators and school safety personnel routinely check the equipment to ensure it is working properly. School resource officers may view security camera footage with school administrators present.
Seminole County school officials said they use security cameras in school that are not on a delay. Seminole schools is also the first in the state to use an emergency panic button connected to an app on teachers' cellphones. In any kind of emergency, including active shooter situations, emergency personnel can immediately access the campus' surveillance cameras and watch what is happening in real time.
School officials said that immediate access can allow law enforcement to plan tactical responses, ensure the proper resources are on hand or being summoned, as well as evaluate the extent of the incident.
"That can immediately alert everybody else on campus to any perceived threat, whether that be an active shooter, suspicious activity, fire," Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said. "That ability has to keep an open line on that phone so law enforcement and dispatch can hear what's going on and other folks on campus can move to safety."