Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie



January 19, 2018

Jacque Ritchie

Christine Shea, Dean of Students at AHS, shows off some of the new security cameras that have been installed on the school grounds

"The most important thing here is the increased presence of law enforcement" said Aztec High School Dean of Students Christine Shea.

As students and staff filter in and out vying for attention, the always busy Shea sits serenely behind a 'U' shaped configuration of desks surrounded by an array of computer monitors. "Currently we have 28 cameras throughout the campus, most of them monitor the exterior of the campus," explains Shea as she deftly demonstrates how the system works. Twenty-eight separate images appear on a screen. Shea selects one image, clicks and a screen fills with a view of the students parking lot. Shea zooms in on a red pickup truck. "If someone was doing something out there they shouldn't be doing well, we can get security or staff out there to check it out." Shea said that the plan is to update the surveillance system with new interior cameras so more of the hallways and common areas are covered. AHS also plans to install a 72 inch flat screen monitor in Shea's office to make monitoring the 11 acre campus more efficient.

As of next week all students will be required to wear their student ID's on lanyards or clipped to the shirt in plain view. No student will be allowed in class without their ID. The first ID is free, replacement IDs cost $5 and can be made in Ms. Shea's office. If a student doesn't have $5 they can sign a promisary note and pay for it later.

Shea said, "We have a student resource officer who is a member of APD, Detective Heather Knibbs." Knibbs was on duty on December 7. Knibbs has been widely hailed as a hero. Along with the other first responders, Knibbs actions that day helped save lives. "Normally, she (Knibbs) is doing other work but she has been placed here, this is her home base now," Shea says. Knibbs primary job is to patrol the campus but according to Shea, her (Knibbs) very presence is a deterrent to crime. "Detective Knibbs deals with any criminal threats whether it be drugs or theft or teen pornography or threats of violence, she generally is able to investigate incidents of that kind here on campus." Shea adds, "She does go to other schools if they have an emergency." Shea continues, "We also have a rotating schedule of deputies from the SJCSO. This is new ... SJCSO is sending over one deputy every day to assist Detective Knibbs ... From here on out, there will be an officer on campus at all times." AHS has also engaged the services of a private security firm, Securitas, out of Albuquerque. According to Shea, "By next week we should have 2 or 3 uniformed security officers monitoring the campus during school hours." Shea said, "So this just means we will have more boots on the ground, more of a presence." Shea credits Superintendent Kirk Carpenter for his ongoing efforts in this endeavor. "The central office and the school board is really helping us get this going."

Governor Susanna Martinez has allocated $120,000 to the Aztec schools that will help offset the related cost. "After this semester however, we will have to find money in the budget to cover future security costs."

Shea said that since that horrible December day, the mood on campus has been relatively positive, considering what the students have had to endure, "I'm seeing a little more kindness, if you will. The students just seem to be behaving nicer, with more care to each other ... They have experienced something nobody, especially an innocent teenager should have had to ... this is something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives." Shea looked wistful, "One thing that I've noticed is the kids seem to have formed a very strong, special bond with their first hour teachers ... they all went through a life-changing event together, I think they will maintain relationships long after graduation maybe for the rest of their lives."


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