When it comes to security at Canby High School, students and staff have had it good with an excellent, full-time Student Resource Officer, but unfortunately have also had a very poor camera system that didn't allow staff to see what was happening in corners of the school.
Over winter break, a much improved camera system was installed, which boasts 49 cameras and better monitoring software.
The previous system included just 30 cameras, and not all of them were in working condition.
"The problem with the old system that we had in place…we could tell there was a person there, and that was about it," said Principal Greg Dinse.
"It was that bad," he continued. "It was like looking at weird, kind of ghostly images. Especially at night time, we really couldn't tell anything…So it was an extremely ineffective system."
So, District Technology Manager Bret Adkins worked with school administrators, former Athletic Director Mark Martens, and Resource Officer Greg Larrison to determine how best to upgrade security.
"It comes to student safety," Adkins said. "We've heard from the security officer, Officer Larrison and high school administration that we need to be putting our priorities focused on student safety.
"[The camera system upgrade] came to the forefront specifically," Adkins added, "because we needed to make sure that we had a reliable system that kept track of what's happening in our hallways at a pretty important building in our school district."
Adkins said everyone is happy with the new system they landed on and called it "state of the art."
One of the biggest improvements, according to both Dinse and Adkins, is the accessibility of the monitoring software. The previous system was tied to a single, dedicated computer.
But the new system uses web-based software for viewing.
"Every administrator, every person involved with campus security, secretaries, can access it both on their computer and through their cell phones," Dinse said. "So what I've found in the short amount of time that we have had these new systems on, I find myself looking at the cameras on occasion. So it's another set of eyes."
Security Officer Chris Harms and Larrison both have access as well, with Harms regularly checking the system as part of his duties.
The cameras were placed strategically too.
"We worked directly with the SRO, Greg Larrison, and every single administrator there at the high school to make sure that we installed cameras in specific locations," Adkins said, "where there may have been incidents, or there's high-traffic areas, or there's previous activity that they flagged as more appropriate areas to keep an eye out.
"And that's where we installed the cameras over the holiday break," he added.
Now, staff can rest easy with a reliable camera system and a continuously reliable campus police officer in Larrison.
"The really neat thing about Greg Larrison is that he was an elementary teacher who turned police officer," Principal Greg Dinse said. "So he's got a background. He's got a formal background in education.
"And he is pretty exceptional as far as a police officer and how he engages with students," Dinse continued. "Even though he's a big guy, he's not an intimidating guy. And it's amazing how well he makes these connections with kids and helps, I think, prevent things, and helps facilitate enforcement."
Adkins said his technology team is working on a number of other projects regarding security as well, including hopefully upgrading to a phone system that allows anyone in the high school with access to a telephone to make an announcement across the whole building in the event of an emergency. He hopes to have that project complete by June.