DANVILLE — Danville police and school officials are working this summer on an agreement that would allow police to access school radio communications and video feeds during an emergency.
Dave Wesner, the city's corporation counsel, said the agreement would allow Danville police and other emergency personnel to hear radio communications by administrators and teachers during an emergency inside a school, such as a school shooting. He said Danville school personnel have hand-held radios that allow them to communicate daily with each other inside the schools and on school grounds. The proposed agreement would give police access to those frequencies during an emergency.
"It would be beneficial for police to have access to that," Wesner recently told Danville aldermen on the city's public services committee.
The full Danville City Council will consider final approval of the intergovernmental agreement with the school district at Tuesday's 6 p.m. council meeting at city hall, 17 W. Main St., Danville.
Wesner said he does not believe the school district has security cameras with feeds accessible from outside a school building. But the agreement would allow police to access any video footage recorded within a building as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.
Alderman Tom Stone asked how this would affect student privacy, and Wesner said the agreement is specifically designed for when there's an unfolding emergency at a school, not for the investigative or surveillance purposes of the police department.
The agreement states that emergency personnel and law enforcement are restricted to accessing only live video feeds or "video feeds that are reasonably contemporaneous with an emergency event," and only from cameras likely to contain footage related to the emergency.
Aldermen also will be considering two more intergovernmental agreements with the school district Tuesday.
One defines the reciprocal sharing of information about criminal offenses committed by students. A school administrator will be designated as the liaison between the school and the police department in sharing the information, which, according to the agreement, includes "activity that would jeopardize the safe, orderly and violence-free environment of a school, including any criminal or gang-related activity."
The other resolution to be considered by aldermen Tuesday night is a renewal of an ongoing agreement for school resource officers, who are sworn, trained Danville police officers assigned specifically to the school district, which pays their salaries and benefits. Two officers are assigned to Danville High and one splits time between North Ridge Middle School and South View Upper Elementary School.
Due to resignations and retirements, the Danville Police Department had to pull at least one resource officer back to regular patrol duties prior to the end of last school year.
Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said that with recent hires in the police department, it should be back up to full staff this summer, allowing for full staffing of the SRO positions before the new school year.
"We should have enough people come August," Thomason said.
Little will change in the new SRO agreement with the school district, but Wesner said there is language giving Thomason more flexibility in pulling SROs back to regular patrol duties if needed. However, the school district would not pay officer salaries and benefits during those reassignments.