Camera test

Wylie ISD becomes the first in Texas to test a new alert monitoring system for the rest of the state

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Wylie ISD in Abilene is piloting a new surveillance security system for the state of Texas, potentially revolutionizing school security.

Five months after the tragic Uvalde school shooting, school safety is still top of mind for most parents and school districts.

Security measures such as new fencing, magnetic entrances and single entry points are being implemented in the United States. However, the basic security camera systems have remained essentially the same.

“For large campuses like ours, with many buildings spaced apart, they are vulnerable in many areas,” said Craig Bessent, deputy superintendent of Wylie ISD.

For Wylie High School, as soon as you walk through the large purple double doors, you can see a “security cameras in use” sign and two white cameras lining either side of the red brick walls.

“In response to the Uvalde shooting, we [schools] thought we had better security outside,” Asst. Supt. said Bessent. “We had to take a different look at the situation.

Bessent, a board member of the Texas School Safety Center, is largely responsible for safety and security at Wylie ISD.

Today, Bessent is helping test a new security monitoring and alerting system for the state of Texas. Wylie ISD is the only school in the state currently testing the Angel Protect system.

The Angel Protect system works similar to a Ring doorbell camera you would have in your home, sending alerts to school officials when a suspicious person is seen on camera.

Screenshot of the initial test of the Angel Protect system and the reconstruction of the intruder, courtesy of Wylie ISD

Asst. Supt. Bessent said the software associated with the cameras is programmed to search for a weapon, and the technology can use pixelated numbers to determine if a weapon is being brought onto campus.

It also includes facial recognition software, as well as locking all exterior doors within seconds of detecting a threat.

“It identifies the individual, gives a detailed description in seconds. He alerts campus security, he can call 9-1-1…and can dispatch officers,” Asst. Supt. Bessent explained. “That can give you an update on where your law enforcement is at the time, so that’s a lot, humanly we can’t do that fast.”

Wylie ISD explained that it helps eliminate human error of staring at security cameras all day. Asst. Supt. Bessent said security guards can’t be everywhere at once with eyes on every corner of the building, so technology can help with a faster response.

“If someone was on campus with a gun, things would already be happening at that school just because of our surveillance,” Asst said. Supt. Bessent boasted. “Even if someone didn’t see this human, it would still bring some sort of alert.”

The system would be able to work with most cameras already installed in schools across the state, making it easily accessible to all schools, wealthy or not.

Currently, Wylie is piloting the use of the Angel Protect system and Asst. Supt. Bessent said the first tests went exceptionally well. Wylie will do another test on Friday.

Wylie’s test results will be presented to the state Legislature in January, seeking approval for more schools across the state to have access to the technology.