Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church has been a landmark in the small rural community of Havre, Mont. since 1898. The current building stands in a central location in Havre, after the facility was moved in 1914 and rebuilt again in 1924.
In 1916, St. Jude’s opened St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic School with a small enrollment of 100 students. The school is now in its 105th year, with more than 150 students, ranging from pre-school to eighth grade, and offers extended care before and after hours. With more than 300 families regularly welcomed to church services at St. Jude’s, making sure everyone on campus is safe and the property protected has been a high priority.
With the recent trends in active shooter violence over the past few decades, schools and churches across the United States have turned to increased security measures to ensure the safety of their people. St. Jude’s was no different, realizing its outdated surveillance system wasn’t providing the level of security required.
“We had a cheap system to just get us by. You could spend an entire day reviewing footage,” said Father Dan Wathen, pastor of the church. “We needed a bird’s-eye view of the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as to be able to narrow down the footage to smaller windows of time.”
There had already been incidents of arson and theft on the property, but it came to a head when children playing with candles in the church started a fire, filling the building with smoke. Although no one was harmed, the incident pushed St. Jude’s to look into alternate options for their security system.
With a total of four buildings encompassing two entire city blocks, including connection tunnels between them, someone could enter one building and end up in another without notice. St. Jude’s needed to know who was going in and out of the buildings to provide a secure environment for both their community and for a local dance studio that rents space from the school.
St. Jude’s was already working on its HVAC system with facility services and security systems integrator FICO of Great Falls, Mont., which offered to introduce St. Jude to Salient Systems. FICO knew Salient’s CompleteView Video Management System (VMS) had the ability to secure the church and school without drastic system changes.
“Salient has always had a ‘blinking light’ when it comes to video management software,” said Gary Marrone, FICO’s manager of security. “When a company focuses on one product like that, it becomes the best in the industry. It’s their initiative to provide the best VMS solution in the market, so I knew they were the right choice for St. Jude’s.”
By working with Salient Systems, St. Jude’s can now network between buildings on the property and their internal communication has drastically improved. CompleteView easily integrated with the existing camera infrastructure at the property, which included 18 interior and 11 exterior Vivotek cameras that constantly monitor all activity on the campus. Demonstrating the value almost immediately, the cameras picked up a bike theft at the school and using CompleteView, St. Jude’s was able to narrow down the surveillance window and provide clear footage to the police department, resulting in quick identification of the perpetrators.
Many churches maintain an open-door policy, which means that the facilities function essentially as community public property. In close proximity to a city park, St. Jude’s is no different — unknown people occasionally loiter on the campus, presenting possible security risks. During one instance, a teacher did not recognize a couple that had appeared and was concerned for the safety of the students. The cameras — a mix of 5MP varifocal zoom cameras and 180-degree 5 MP fisheyes on the exterior, and 2 MP domes — followed the two to ensure no crime was being committed while the footage was being used to identify them. Another benefit to the system is if there are any disciplinary issues on the playground, the school staff can review the video and act accordingly.
“It was a dream come true for us,” said Kathryn Tilleman, development director at St. Jude’s school. “We have a greater ability to keep the church and school more open and secure. The footage is very clear and easy to find and access. The CompleteView interface makes the security system extremely user-friendly for us all.” School administrators can segment user access to the surveillance system for individual staff members, including assigning different staffers the ability to access specific cameras. This ensures those working during extended care hours at the school also have use of the system for added security when other system administrators are not on the property. Administrators can also use CompleteView’s mobile access for remote footage viewing and system management, as well as graphical mapping features to identify the specific locations of camera events more quickly. The ability to search through video using GeoView layouts has also increased the speed and efficiency for playback and searching footage. With the Video Wall feature, administrators can view and manage multiple monitor arrays to see updates in real time.
“Working together with FICO, we were pleased to be able to offer St. Jude’s an intuitive surveillance system that enables school and church staff to easily notice unusual events or behavior,” said Jerry Smith, director of sales, Western U.S. for Salient Systems. “CompleteView can easily accommodate system expansions as St Jude’s needs grow and change while still providing a user-friendly interface for staff members.”
With an additional camera for the gym interior and additional exterior cameras in the works, St. Jude’s Catholic Church and School has seen tremendous growth in its security since integrating CompleteView. Though the cameras are hidden from view, students are aware of them, so playground behavior has been rapidly improving. In general, church members, students and staff have felt an increased level of safety on premise, achieving St. Jude’s goal of creating a secure space for their people.