Grant will help Manteca keep an eye on schools

MANTECA -- The city soon will be counted among those where police are able to monitor school grounds during an emergency.

The city and Manteca Unified School District won a $93,310 federal Department of Justice grant for Internet protocol cameras, according to Rep. Jerry McNerney's office. McNerney, D-Pleasanton, lobbied on behalf of the city's grant application. The cameras feed to computers and have the capability to link into the police system so officers can monitor a crime scene on their way there.

Capt. John Orcutt, who wrote the grant application, said he hadn't received word about winning the grant but he would be pleased. The grant would be matched with about $90,000 from the district and several thousand dollars from the city to purchase 32 cameras for the campuses. The cameras cost about $3,100 each. The remainder of the money would go toward installation and other related costs.

Jason Messer, the district's assistant superintendent of education services, said the high schools have security cameras outside classrooms and offices, mostly to watch for vandalism, but this would create a uniform system and allow police to link into the system should an emergency on campus warrant doing so.

"They (the police) aren't going to be linked in all the time because they don't want to sit and watch the cameras all day," Messer said. "But if we were to have an issue or a dangerous situation, the police would be able to do so even from their squad car."

Orcutt noted the department doesn't have enough staff to watch the cameras.

Ripon has cameras at various spots in the city and added them to Ripon High School earlier this summer. Turlock High also is in the process of upgrading its cameras to a similar system, said Assistant Principal Joe Cusenza.

The Livingston Police Department also won a grant for $112,339 to help buy high- resolution surveillance cameras for Livingston High. The Merced Union High School District will contribute a matching sum to buy 16 cameras that will feed to the police department.

Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at imiller@modbee.com or 599-8760.