Examining Lynbrook security cameras


Sloka Suresh and Claire Chiu

The Lynbrook administration plans to double the number of security cameras on campus in the coming years.

Alara Dasdan and Kaylin Li

More than a dozen security cameras are placed around Lynbrook’s campus, and the Lynbrook administration is planning to install more in the near future.

Security cameras have been on Lynbrook’s campus for decades, but they were not heavily present until around ten years ago.

“When we first installed cameras, the wish was to have all [of the school] covered,” said Jose Ramirez, Lynbrook’s student conduct specialist in charge of security on campus. “Obviously, that’s not realistic in one shot, unless a multi-billionaire makes a donation. So we have to go in small steps. Some of those are baby steps, some of those are giant leaps.”

The administration noticed there were issues that were left unaccounted for due to a lack of cameras. Before the installation of cameras, an alarm sounded when vandalism, theft or similar activities occurred. But in cases where no staff were on site, it was difficult to figure out what happened. After several incidents, the administration began to look into installing cameras. The administration started by implementing a couple of cameras on campus to pilot their new system. Now, the administration is planning to double the number of cameras for greater security coverage.

“We’re still short on what experts recommend for Lynbrook to be thoroughly covered as far as cameras go, but [this second installment of cameras] is a step in the process to getting that,” Ramirez said.

If people know that we’re actively looking to identify them, and we’re sharing the information with the police department, that may be enough of a deterrent to tell people, ‘Let’s not vandalize Lynbrook. Let’s go vandalize [some other school] instead.’

— Jose Ramirez, Student Conduct Specialist

Security cameras enable administration to quickly check on what is happening whenever an alarm goes off by opening a website on their computer or an app on their phones that display recordings from the cameras. The administration may then evaluate the circumstances and, if necessary, contact the police to resolve the situation.

“It’s not going to fix all of our problems, but it’s going to help us in the future,” Ramirez said. “Because if people know that we’re monitoring, that we’re actively looking to identify them, and we’re sharing the information with the police department, that may be enough of a deterrent to tell people, ‘Let’s not vandalize Lynbrook. Let’s go vandalize [some other school] instead.’”

 At Lynbrook, one source of concern is bike theft. Students sometimes leave their bikes at school unlocked, leaving them prone to theft by passerbyers. Other concerns, such as vandalism, require more attention. Unfortunately, not all of issues such as bike theft and parking lot issues can be monitored, because the school holds the expectation that individuals will secure their own items. This bothers some students on campus, who believe that bike theft and issues in the parking lot should be monitored.

“Most of what happens, if anything happens, happens in the parking lot with people getting their tires slashed, or people getting their bike stolen and their locks cut,” Sun said. “Those cameras are ineffective. They do nothing to keep us safe in the locations they’re being installed. I don’t feel any safer with those cameras around.”

To install a camera on campus, a few actions need to be addressed. First and foremost is securing enough funds not reserved for educational purposes to implement cameras. After securing the funds, camera vendors are allowed to bid for the project, and one vendor is chosen to install the cameras. The placement and location of the cameras are often based on the input from the vendors, as well as the given budget for installing cameras.

To address concerns that the cameras might invade students’ privacy, Lynbrook administration has made it clear that they do not intend to install cameras in classrooms or bathrooms. They believe that placing cameras in hallways is more acceptable, as there is less of an expectation of privacy in hallways. Some students believe that this is an appropriate practice.

“You can still do whatever you want to do as long as it’s not violating school rules,” senior Akshaya Ramakrishnan said. “So I think in a way, it’s not really violating your privacy because it’s not inside classrooms. You can do whatever you want, but you should obviously make wise decisions.”

However, some students believe that the security cameras are not effective or necessary at Lynbrook.

“It’s pretty concerning, because I think it’s a big invasion of what little privacy we have here at school,” senior Robert Sun said. “My right to privacy doesn’t end just because there’s criminals around here, or there’s people breaking stuff, or doing whatever.”

There is no way of telling what danger could happen at a school, so schools can only prepare for the worst. If security cameras are necessary to protect student safety, then the administration is willing to implement them.