911 exploring similar partnerships with other districts

If an act of violence were to occur at Hannibal High School, in the very near future responding emergency personnel will have real-time intelligence with which to work thanks to a partnership being developed between Marion County 911 and the Hannibal public school district.

The partnership will enable Marion County 911 dispatchers to access any of the security cameras in operation throughout the school district.

“If we have an emergency situation it is imperative to have the ability to provide real-time, accurate intelligence to first responders, law enforcement, fire or any other agency on the scene,” said Rich Stilley, business manager for the Hannibal school district.

Stilley says 911 personnel are well suited to be utilized in such situations.

“Having someone off campus providing the real-time intelligence to law enforcement in a professional, calm manner will expedite controlling the situation,” said Stilley. “These professionals are trained to deal with emergency situations like these, and our staff will be able to get out of harm’s way, evacuate the building and get to safety.”

Marion County 911 will not be logged in to school district camera feeds on a regular basis.

“911 will not be monitoring the cameras on a daily or consistent basis. However, they will have access to our cameras in an emergency situation,” said Stilley, adding that all district cameras will be available to 911 personnel.

The Hannibal public school district is not the only area school district interested in forging such a partnership, according to Mike Hall, director of Marion County 911.

“We have been approached by several school districts that we serve and are willing to partner with them in this manner, but we don’t have all the details, procedural and technical, worked out yet,” he said.

Before the cameras can be accessed by 911 some technical hurdles have had to be overcome.

“Because this is a remote in software we had to be very cognizant of firewalls, cybersecurity, some liability concerns and the protocol of how and when access would be granted,” said Stilley.

The cost associated with providing this service will be minimal.

“We have been able to roll the access into a new program that we purchased that improves inventory, work-order systems and computer upgrades,” explained Stilley.

According to Stilley, this is not a recent development.

“We had our initial conversation about a year ago at a Homeland Security meeting in Macon,” he said.

Like other security and safety measures that have been implemented throughout the Hannibal school district in recent years, Stilley hopes it will never have to be utilized.

“We are very excited to roll this out. I want to reiterate how much the Hannibal school district appreciates the collaboration of all of our safety partners,” he said. “While I pray that we never have to enact this protocol, I am pleased to have this additional safety measure in place.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com