ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Wylie ISD in Abilene is piloting a new surveillance security system for the State of Texas, potentially revolutionizing school security.
Five months after the tragic Uvalde school shooting, school security is still at the forefront of most parents’ and school districts’ minds.
Security measures like new fencing, magnetic entrances and single-entry points are being implemented throughout the United States. However, the basic security camera systems have remained mostly the same.
“For large campuses like ours, with a lot of buildings spaced out, they’re vulnerable in a lot of areas,” Assistant Superintendent of Wylie ISD, Craig Bessent said.
For Wylie High School, as soon as you walk up the large purple double-doors, you can see a “security cameras in use” sign and two white cameras donning each side of the red brick walls.
“In response to the Uvalde shooting, we [schools] thought we had better outside security,” Asst. Supt. Bessent said. “We needed to take a different look at it.”
Bessent, a member of the Texas School Safety Center board, is largely in charge of safety and security at Wylie ISD.
Now, Bessent is helping test a new security surveillance and alert system for the State of Texas. Wylie ISD is the only school in the state currently testing the Angel Protect System.
The Angel Protect System works similarly to a Ring doorbell camera that you would have at your home, sending alerts to school officials when a suspicious person is seen on camera.
Asst. Supt. Bessent said the software paired with the cameras are programmed to look for a weapon, and the technology can use pixelated figures to determine if a weapon is being brought on campus.
It also includes facial recognition software, as well as lock all exterior doors within seconds of a threat being detected.
“It identifies the individual, gives a detailed description within seconds. It alerts security on campus, it can call 9-1-1… and can dispatch officers,” Asst. Supt. Bessent explained. “It can give you an update on where your responding law enforcement is at that time, so it does a lot of things, humanly, we can’t do that fast.”
Wylie ISD explained that it helps take the human error out of watching security cameras all day. Asst. Supt. Bessent said security officers cannot be everywhere at once with eyes on every corner of the building, so the technology can help with a quicker response.
“If someone was on campus with a weapon, things would already be happening in that school just because of our surveillance,” Asst. Supt. Bessent boasted. “Even if someone didn’t see that human, it would still bring some kind of alert.”
The system is said to be capable of working with most cameras already installed in schools across the state, making it easily accessible for all schools, wealthy or not.
Right now, Wylie is piloting the use of the Angel Protect System, and Asst. Supt. Bessent said initial tests have gone exceptionally well. Wylie will be doing another test on Friday.
Wylie’s test results will go before the State Legislature in January, seeking approval for more schools across the state to have access to the technology.