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The Cost of School Safety

School safety can be very costly. For example, security night guards on the low end, could cost a school around $30,000-$40,000 each year.  This is assuming that at least one officer is paid full-time for each night annually at $10- $15/hour.

Most school districts have more than one school, which could mean for three schools the annual cost could jump to $90,000- $120,000. This is the cost for night patrols only.  A 24/7 patrol could cost a school $270,000-$360,000 for one officer per a school. If a school adds armed guards,  then that number is higher because the average police officer makes $58,000 annually. The cost of human resources can be expensive, however, school safety technologies are costly as well.

Technology may be less expensive over time, but it still costs the school a decent amount of money. According to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research (OLR), titled “School Security Technologies”,  a single low end camera cost around $500 to $1,000, and a high resolution camera can cost around $8,000. Most schools have more than one camera. OLR estimates for a small elementary school the cost for cameras is around $20,000 to $30,000, and for a large high school, it is around $200,000. This does not include other School Safety items such as: scan cards, alarms, electronic databases, videotaping, and remote access for doorways.  And most likely, does not include the cost to run the camera such as the electricity, the networking , or the monitoring.  A more modern technology system can cost as much as $400,000.

It is hard to track school annual budgets for security nationally because most schools do not have a separate assigned budget code. However, Education Week estimates the “market for security systems integration in educational institutions is predicted to expand to $4.9 billion in 2017, an 81.5 percent increase from $2.7 billion last year”.

The cost of school safety is expensive, but there is no comparison to the value of children’s lives.  Let us make the lives of children a priority, by placing school security into the 2017 budget.

What will the year 2017 bring in the form of nuisance crimes, such as vandalism and graffiti?

Nuisance Crimes in 2017

What will the year 2017 bring in the form of nuisance crimes, such as vandalism and graffiti?  Where do these small but costly infractions fit in with the budget?

Policing is an important safety measure that ensures quality life for the citizens of every city.  Without policing, there is chaos.  Unfortunately, there are those who intimidate the weak and the defenseless, and without our police, there is a “Lord of the Flies” mentality.  In a civilized nation, we have come to expect safety when walking to the grocery store, when taking the kids to the park to play, or when walking  the dog around the block.  If we do not have police and laws, the freedoms we now enjoy will only be free in theory.

After the horrendous November 27, 2016 shooting at Bourbon Street, police are increasing their presence in the French Quarter.  Besides extra staffing , cameras have also been placed in strategic places.  The city is making it known that extra measures are being put in place.

With the police having to deal with these bigger issues, how will the problem of graffiti and vandalism be handled?  Will there be enough police to patrol the secluded areas around the city to stop the blight that brings down the quality of life, through unsightly markings and broken windows?

According to the Center for Evidence-Base Crime Policy, there have been evaluations for the last 20 years that focus on crime and disorder in “hot spots”.  Accordingly, focusing on a hot spot can include many approaches for a solution.  With the police being tasked with larger issues, the department will have to be creative with the resources available to them.  The evidence  to reduce the nuisance crimes, such as graffiti, vandalism and loitering seems to be very convincing.  Ridding the city of defacement either in the form of illegal drawings or the destruction of property will help with the overall policing in the area and should be considered in the budget.

 

 

Broken Window Theory

What is the Broken Window Theory?

The “Broken Window Theory” is the idea that if a community prevents smaller crimes like vandalism and graffiti it will improve the overall quality of life for the whole community, which will prevent larger crimes from occurring. Targeting low level crimes to prevent larger crimes. This theory was first introduced by social scientists,  James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling , in a 1982 article in The Atlantic.

The theory is that if one allows a few broken windows to go unrepaired in abandoned building, then more will eventually be broken. More broken windows could lead to graffiti and people illegally inhabiting the building, and soon the building becomes a center of illegal activity like drug deals, which leads to worse criminal activity. Essentially if a community prevents or repairs the petty crimes, like graffiti and vandalism, before they become a bigger issue, then that will improve the overall crime rate in the community.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton incorporated this theory into their crime prevention methods. Bratton is currently the NYPD Commissioner under Bill De Blasio, and he has implemented the theory as an integral part of the city’s law enforcement. NYPD according to NBC News uses a “Stop-and-frisk” method and relies on the “Broken Window Theory”. New York City uses the theory to deal with issues like graffiti, vandalism, and littering. When issues arise like graffiti in the subways, the city cleans it up, so the overall crime does not increase.

NYPD under Bratton has been a very effective police force, most likely because of their key principle of using the “Broken Window Theory”.   This theory addresses crime prevention so larger crimes do not arise. The “broken window” theory is a method that should be used by police enforcement throughout the country.

Graffiti

What is the True Cost of Graffiti?

Each City has their own statistics on what graffiti costs, which could include the expense of the chemicals to remove the graffiti, the paint to repaint the damaged surface from the graffiti, and valuable labor resources used to paint over the graffiti. The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, (POP), estimates the graffiti problem costs our nation $12 billion  annually.  But what about the hidden costs?  What does graffiti cost a child who has to go to school that is marked with graffiti or play at a park tagged with graffiti warnings?  According to POP, the offender is “conducting a psychological battle with authorities”.  Children who live in communities with graffiti know this battle all too well. How is a teacher going to have authority in the classroom when the students see there is no authority on the graffiti walls of their school?   How is a child going to respect the police officer who can’t keep the offenders from graffiti marking the streets? How can a child feel safe playing at the park when offenders have placed graffiti threats on the playground equipment?  Are cities doing everything they can to win this battle and protect the most innocent of victims?   The true cost of graffiti cannot be measured.