Police officers working at Fulton County Schools will have an addition to their uniform this year.
Last month, 40 officers within the school system received body cameras. The remaining officers, about 20 of them, will get cameras this week and begin training with them. All police officers in Fulton schools will wear cameras this year.
In all, 75 camera systems were purchased. Along with batteries, the total purchase cost about $31,000. That came out of the school system’s budget for safety and security, according to spokeswoman for Fulton Schools.
“We want it so if there are situations in which we are engaging with the public, and I’m not just talking about students,” Shannon Flounnory, Fulton Schools executive director, told Channel 2 Action News. “Keep in mind, even though we are a school police department, many of our interactions are with the public.”
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Fulton is the latest school system in metro Atlanta to equip officers with body cameras. Gwinnett County Schools have had their officers wearing body cameras for seven years, Cobb County has had them in schools since 2015 and Henry County school officers have had them for two years.
In January, a grant from the Department of Justice was awarded to Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County schools and DeKalb County schools to purchase body cameras.
But while APS officers will begin wearing those cameras this year, DeKalb withdrew from the grant because of costs. Officers in DeKalb schools still don’t use body cameras. A Clayton County schools spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment and the district has not revealed plans for how it will use the grant money.
The camera model that Fulton school officers are getting are called “PAVs” for “Portable Audio and Video.” In a release, Fulton County Schools officials said the cameras “are designed to assist and complement the officers” and the recordings “are intended to provide an unbiased record of incidents.”
“Some things happening throughout our country, of course, create anxiety for us and staff and students and we have to react to that,” Jeff Rose, Fulton County Schools superintendent, told Channel 2.
Fulton students return to school Aug. 6.
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About 70 officers from the department have been trained to use the cameras