Fort Worth police can access school security video in real time under an agreement approved Tuesday by the Fort Worth school board.
Trustees voted 7-0 in favor of a memorandum of understanding with the city that allows police access to campus security video during emergencies. Trustees Judy Needham and Ann Sutherland were not present for the vote.
"Seconds are critical," said Anael Luebanos, trustee of District 8, which includes Paschal High School.
Trustee Ashley Paz, who attended recent discussions on school safety at a conference held by Council of the Great City Schools in Washington, D.C., said allowing police to access security in real time will help authorities during a crisis.
"This will take out the middle man and reduce response time and potentially save critical moments," Paz said.
The agreement was listed as an action item on the agenda. Superintendent Kent P. Scribner recommended moving forward with the agreement.
"Our most important job is to educate children," Scribner said in a statement. "But we must provide a safe and secure learning environment for them and our employees."
Scribner said the district is using a "layered" approach to school safety, and the video access is one part. He recently called on parents to talk to students about the risks of sending prank threats to schools.
Under the agreement, police will be able to view live video feeds from the district's security system during emergency calls or "when deemed necessary at the sole discretion of the FWPD to locate and identify information for law enforcement purposes," according to information prepared for trustees by district staff.
School resource officers assigned to Fort Worth schools have laptops from which they can view school security cameras, district spokesman Clint Bond said.
"In a crisis situation, time is of essence," Bond said in an email. "Any 'real-time' information that can be provided to police could allow them to develop the appropriate emergency response quicker."
The lack of real-time video for police was an issue in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, according to media reports.
The agreement will run until Sept. 30, 2020, with an option for up to two additional four-year terms. It will have no budgetary impact.
Lt. Guillermo De La Campa, who is assigned to the Police Department's youth division school resource unit, said the agreement will allow city police to access the school system on laptops. The live feed, in combination with other tools, can help police reacting to an active school shooter, De La Campa said.
"Schools have a mission of great importance to our city — they are responsible for educating and preparing our children to be responsible and productive citizens," De La Campa said in an email. "Ensuring a safe and secure learning environment is critical to accomplishing their mission.
Trustee Jacinto Ramos Jr. said school safety depends in part on listening to students. He said young people can tell school leaders of potential threats.
"We need to keep hearing student voices," Ramos said.
The Fort Worth school district has been adding more security enhancements in recent years, including as part of a bond program approved by voters in 2013.