Police and district officials said Wednesday that they’re planning to meet and hammer out the details of the New Canaan Police Department’s would-be access to interior cameras at public schools.
Despite making formal and public requests of the district to bounce back a proposed Memorandum of Understanding or ‘MOU’ regarding that access, police officials said that they only received an email from the superintendent of schools that same day to meet with the Board of Education’s attorney on the matter.
“Apparently the Board of Education met this past Monday and discussed it and he [Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi] is wanting me and him and the Board of Education attorney to sit down and discuss the MOU again,” Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission, held at NCPD headquarters.
“I don’t know when that is going to happen but so far we do not have access to interior video cameras which we desperately want especially in the case of an emergency or in the case of a big event that we need access in order to have our officers dispatched there as quickly as possible to help people. So I’m hopeful that this is going to happen but it has been a long process. It’s been a number of months.”
Reached by email, Luizzi told NewCanaanite.com that police currently have real time/full time access into the 119 external cameras at all five buildings, which are high resolution and provide a clear picture.
“If a crisis were to unfold, we could ‘flip a switch’ and they could have the same access into the internal cameras at any school throughout the district,” Luizzi said. “In our conversations, we are looking to balance public safety with student privacy rights under [the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act], and I’m confident that we’ll reach a resolution that will meet all needs in the best interests of our students, staff, and entire community.”
According to Krolikowski, some type of “emergency-only” access risks problems.
“Accessing it [a video camera system] by username and password during emergencies is not going to work,” he said. “Something is going to go wrong with that access. That’s not a reasonable way.”
He added: “My instincts are that if we do not have progress by the next Police Commission meeting, then we ask to get on Board of Ed to be on their agenda to discuss this.”
Commissioner Paul Foley said the sole police interest in gaining access is safety.
“We are not going to just sit there and watch the monitor of what is going on inside the school,” he said. “We have got too many other things to do. That is not the purpose of this. The purpose is during an emergency we have got to have access to that and quickly and it just we do not have that right now.”
Foley had been vocal at last month’s Commission meeting that the MOU passed between the police and school district had been in the latter’s lap for more than two years.
Krolikowski said an initial MOU that police received from the district “wasn’t acceptable” and that he had returned a revised version for their review, to no avail.
Commission Chairman Sperry DeCew, an attorney, said offered to join Krolikowski (also an attorney) at the future meeting with the school board.
“I am hopeful,” he said of the future meeting, which has not yet been scheduled. “My glass is half full.”
The Police Commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for June 20.