Keeping a Watchful Eye: Admin Break Down the Surveillance System


Katie Notch

A screen in the front office shows multiple camera angles from outside the building.

Katie Notch, Staff Writer

Walking through the halls surrounded by your peers, you may think the only eyes on you are those around and beside you. But a few are looking down from above.  

That’s right: it’s the security system.  

Assistant Principal Darius Maize said that the school has roughly 200 cameras, located inside and outside the building.  

Each one contains identification and recognition capabilities. 

“The way it works, I can highlight a student’s face and see where they have been previously,” said school resource officer Xavier Wilson.  

“Or it includes a feature where if I don’t know who it is, I can create a description of the subject, and it will show me everyone with that description,” Wilson said.    

Maize said he doesn’t “have to see you to catch you,” meaning facial recognition isn’t the only way to identify a student. 

For example, if a student is wearing a mask or a hooded jacket, shielding his or her face, administrators use “process of elimination” to pinpoint his or her identity.  

Administrators evaluate the characteristics of the students, such as gender, clothes, hair color and skin color, and weed through camera footage and photos of students to find a particular individual. 

The cameras also keep record of time, which is helpful for seeing when students arrive to and leave from campus. 

One of the 360-degree cameras mounted to the ceiling. (Katie Notch)

 Principal Ashley Agans said most students appear unconcerned about the security system.  

“I think most of our students have forgotten that they are on camera,” said Agans. “And the ones that are usually egregious  like catching kids knock off soap dispensers and pour hand sanitizer in the hallways  you can tell they have completely forgotten that a camera is literally right there.”  

Despite not seeing much unruly behavior throughout the school, “I don’t see very many of [students] change their behavior based on the camera being there,” she said. 

Administration accesses camera footage through their computer, checking in frequently throughout the day.   

Whether they are looking for something and need to see it again, or they need to assess the safety of students if an incident occurs, the cameras have memory that provides a frame-by-frame analysis of students’ location.  

“Some of the admin occasionally are looking at the high areas where something might be going on. Officer Wilson checks them too just to see how things are going,” Agans said. 

Wilson said he recalls a certain incident he witnessed from camera footage over the summer. A former student came to visit a teacher while “kids were having some sort of practice outside. He started doing donuts in the bus lanes in the senior lot.” 

Agans said the worst encounter she’s seen is students kissing … passionately.  

“There are some things I can probably never unsee,” said Agans. 

Maize said when students are detected and punished for their behavior, they regret getting caught more than what they did. 

Assistant Principal Cindy Weatherford said that students’ actions should always be honorable and respectful.  

“I hope that Cambridge students would be the kind of students to behave appropriately regardless of cameras,” she said. “You know it’s all about that character when no one’s watching.”