Facial recognition technology coming to West Virginia schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four West Virginia county school districts have installed or are in the process of installing new facial recognition technology.

Jonah Adkins

Jonah Adkins, director of PK-12 Academic Support at the state Department of Education, said those counties include Marion, Taylor, Doddridge and Putnam.

“What this software does is it provides schools with an additional layer of security. They can enter the faces of all their staffs, their students and well-known visitors and then it sends administrators an alert if an unwanted person were to approach the door or anywhere on campus,” Adkins told members of the state Board of Education last week.

Adkins said there will be a database that will be able to detect criminals.

“That software immediately can pick up and recognize those faces. You can create a database of sex offenders or someone who has made a threat toward the school. If that person gets near the school, immediately that administrator gets an alert,” he said.

The software will integrate with camera systems, so counties don’t have to purchase all new cameras.

Schools officials are hoping to have the school crisis and response plan template uploaded by June 15 as part of Gov. Jim Justice’s statewide school safety plan that was implemented in January.

“This will allow Homeland Security simply to log on to see the crisis response plans and that will allow them to see that and then suggest changes, if necessary,” Adkins said.

Since January, school safety officers have visited 567 schools, made 88 visits to county board of education offices, made 280 contacts with school resource and prevention resources officers as they jointly investigate school safety concerns.

The goal of the governor’s program is to use $2 million dollars to ensure quick law enforcement response times and make sure every public school in West Virginia follows the same safety procedures.

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