Security guards at Broken Arrow schools getting bodycams


By Brittany Harlow, Contributing Writer

The Broken Arrow Public Schools has provided their certified security guards with access to audio and wearable body cameras for use while on duty.

The decision came this week as the Broken Arrow Board of Education approved a dozen policy revisions, including a significant update to the district’s use of security cameras.

“These recorders are intended to assist guards in the performance of their duties by providing an unbiased audio/video record of a contact, and to supplement the guard’s report of an incident,” the district’s update says. “They are also intended to enhance the mission of the department by accurately capturing contacts between members of the department and the public.”

The section of Policy 4270 relating to body cameras is roughly 3 pages long and includes what is allowed and not allowed regarding the recording of students and others.

Derek Blackburn, executive director of Student Services, said the current use of cameras within the district, paired with the increase of staff carrying weapons, led them to explore the option of body cameras.

“Before we could take this step, we needed to update the policy to allow for the purchase and use by the district,” Blackburn said. “Additionally, we have a few security guards who have requested them to provide them a level of protection if an accusation is ever made against them.”

Blackburn said while security guards have been hired to create positive relationships and protect the students and staff, they realize there are times that negative interaction can occur and the cameras may provide a clear picture of events.

“We are still reviewing the operation of these cameras and have not written the procedures manual yet,” Blackburn said. “But we anticipate they will only be turned on when answering a call from the school administrators and or front office staff to address concerns.”

The topic of camera-wearing guards in school districts has been debated over the last decade. Those opposed say this kind of digital proof during an individual’s adolescent years can be harmful later in life, especially due to the virality of so-called “leaked” footage.

But concerned parties in Oklahoma may find comfort in HB 1037, passed in 2015, which protects the identities of minors from bodycam open records requests.

As to when security guards will begin wearing body cameras in Broken Arrow schools, Blackburn said that depends on when and where the funding comes from.

“More than likely we will start a pilot program before issuing them to all of our security guards,” Blackburn said. “The earliest I could foresee all of our staff wearing them will not be until later in the school year.”

The dozen policy revisions approved Monday night are part of the BAPS Policy Council’s ongoing review of the entire Board of Education Policy Guide. Adoptions, revisions, and deletions of policies are given first and second readings before admitted into policy guides.

Other student policies revised Monday were Policy 4080 (Dress Code), Policy 4170 (Intradistrict Transfer of Students), Revision to Policy 4190 (Medication Taken At School), Policy 4285 (Service Animals), and Policy 4400 (Student Transfers).

Employee policies revised Monday were Policy 5160 (BA Medical Leave) and Policy 5350 (Suspension, Demotion, Termination or Non-Reemployment of Support Employees).

Business, technology and operations policies
revised Monday were Policy 6000 (Activity Fund Accounting and Expenditure Procedures), Policy 6155 (Post-Issuance Tax Compliance for Tax-Exempt Bonds), Policy 6160 (Purchasing and Procurement), and Policy 6190 (Employee Travel)

Find the full agenda from the July 17 BAPS Board of Education meeting here.

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