Posts

School Lockers

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.

Halloween Decorations

Graffiti, Vandalism and Theft, OH MY!

Are you ready for the increase in nuisance crimes such as graffiti, vandalism and theft during America’s second major holiday? People in America are expected to spend about 8.4 billion dollars this year in 2016 to celebrate this Halloween. This is the highest expected spending in the history of Halloween.

Decorations of spiders, graves and bats are in full swing as the shorter and cooler days approach, but so is the mischief of vandalism, graffiti and theft.  What can you do to protect the valuable assets that your department has worked so hard at attaining?  Whether it is pavilions, park benches or bathrooms, your cities’ assets are at a higher risk during this scary time of Witches, Goblins and Darth Vaders.  How can you protect these valuable assets from nuisance crimes?

While searching the web, one can find many articles on how to protect your house or your car, but what about park equipment and athletic sheds located in the remote dark areas?  Even eggs and toilet paper can be costly to clean up, not to mention the damage caused to the equipment.  In addition, the department needs to be ready for the morning visitors who come to enjoy the facilities you provide.  This can cause a lot of stress.

A 2009 Popular Mechanic’s article, “Halloween Vandalism: How to Prevent it- And How to Clean it UP”, gives some pretty good tips but states keeping your property well-lit is the best preventative, because people do not want others to watch them as they commit their mischief. This can be difficult in a remote area. Also, it is costly to keep the lights on all night where electricity is available.

The FlashCAM systems make their presence known, and they require no hard wiring, making it easy to deploy.  This is a cost effective way to guard your valuable assets from graffiti, vandalism and theft.

School Vandalism

Prevent Vandalism in Schools

The importance of vandalism prevention should be the focus of schools rather than surveillance. Recently in an article titled “5 charged in connection with Porter Elementary break-in” by wbir.com, the cost of damage caused by five suspects is “over $60,000”.

According to Sheriff James Berrong, this is, “worst cases of vandalism that I have seen in my law enforcement career.” Vandalism in schools is a problem that most school districts around the country face.  This problem can be very costly and calls for the prevention of vandalism before the crime occurs.

Center for Problem-Oriented Policing estimates the average cost of vandalism in the US to be around $200 million in 1970 and climbed to $600 million in 1990. Most of the cases of vandalism are issues of small cases, unlike Potter Elementary’s situation. If schools are spending so much money on vandalism, what are schools doing to prevent such issues?

In the Tri-City Tribune, James Barfoot, assistant superintendent of operations for Farmington Schools, says vandalism in his school district is between $20,000 and $30,000 based upon his school’s annual estimation cost of damages. Before installing security cameras the estimation was $20,000 and $50,000. The school district is able to catch some people, and the amount of vandalism has dropped because of that.

However, when schools in Farmington are vandalized there is a required $25,000 deductible on the insurance plan. Barfoot stated even if the insurance company covers everything “taxpayers still have to cover” the vandalism in schools.

Unless the vandalism is reduced to a very small amount, tax payers are still paying for vandalism in schools. School districts around the country should be seeking new ways for overall prevention of vandalism in schools. Video surveillance systems only put a dent in the overall cost of vandalism. Being able to catch the vandals like in the case of Porter Elementary is good, but to save money for the tax payers, finding new ways to prevent vandalism before it happens will prove to be most effective in saving tax payers’ dollars.

Vandalism Camera-Crime Prevention Tool

Vandalism Camera-Crime Prevention Tool

Cleaning up crimes can only go on so long. Eventually, part of the cities’ crime enforcement operations need to lead to crime prevention methods. According to a report “Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising” by the NCJRS, Crime prevention needs to be implemented in three areas: community environments, families, and schools.

Because of the strictness of laws and constitutional rights in the US, city prevention in these three areas seem to have become more passive in nature. Cities create programs and ways to educate people to prevent crime in the future. These methods are good, but they do not have immediate effects in stopping crime.

On the scene, arrests and extra patrol officers seem to be effective in cases of high level crime that results in immediate effects. However, crimes of a less extreme nature, such as: property crimes, theft,  burglary, trespass, and criminal mischief, seem to go unnoticed. Police departments use curfews, street lighting, neighborhood watches, vandalism cameras, and remote surveillance systems in order to stop crimes of such nature. Are these methods effective?

According to California Bureau Research, California State Library, titled “Public Video Surveillance: Is It An Effective Crime Prevention Tool” By Marcus Nieto, there is not enough evidence. However, according to Tony Pearsall, the Executive Director of Fighting Back Partnership, “It’s preventative — it’s an obvious visible prevention that’s having more of an impact than I ever thought it would have.”  Therefore, due to the high amount of crime and low amount of human resources, tools like remote surveillance systems and vandalism cameras seem to be an alternate option that needs to be explored as an effective preventative method to stop crime.