The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office can now view school security cameras from a centralized location.

The new cameras are part of a statewide overhaul of security-related upgrades following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in 2018. The school district received around $500,000 through the Education Facilities Securities Grant to pay for the project and another $1.3 million was paid for through the voter-approved half-cent sales tax.

The new security system allows for the Sheriff's Office to view the camera feeds from a single location, using software by Genetec called Omnicast. According to the company’s website, the security system “allows operators to become more efficient, make better decisions, and respond to incidents more rapidly.”

At school district workshop last week Chief Information Officer Bruce Patrou said as of Aug. 5. the Sheriff's Office had access to the system.

“A number of schools are now online…” Patrou told board members. “We expect to have all of the remaining cameras online over the next two to three months. So we’re making great progress.”

Patrou briefly described how the system would work in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office during an emergency situation.

“There are a number of deputies in dispatch, so if they’re called to the scene, the dispatch would actually radio in details that they’re seeing from the camera system,” he said during the workshop.

Superintendent Tim Forson said high-quality cameras would help identify any threat to school campuses.

“I will say the quality of those cameras is very impressive,” Forson told board members. “Being able to determine faces and individuals and all the things that you need to do from a critical security standpoint, these are very high-quality cameras and will serve us well in that capacity.”

Additional details on the system are not available to the public due to security concerns, district spokeswoman Christina Langston said.

It’s unclear how many cameras were purchased or which schools are still waiting for the upgrades.

According to the district website, 24 schools received upgraded security and monitoring systems through the tax levy. Over a dozen schools were updated with single point of entry projects and nine schools in the district have received fencing enhancements to harden campuses.

A staff recommendation from October describes a pilot system that was put in place last June to test the use of a single district-wide surveillance system. The memo states that the Sheriff's Office had recently adopted the same system and that eight new Axis brand cameras were combined with the existing cameras to create a cohesive system for the first time in the district's history.

“From a single screen, an authorized administrator can select and view any camera from multiple sites/schools with the Genetec system," the memo reads.