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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.

Graffiti on Wall

Graffiti Prevention Strategy: Address the “who” over the “what”

graf·fi·ti  /ɡrəˈfēdē/ noun : writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.

Did you know that graffiti comes in many various forms and “techniques?”  Some taggers use drill bits to etch glass, metal or plastic surfaces, making it more difficult and more expensive to remove. Others slap stickers across signs and billboards, which may seem like an innocent act but it is still vandalizing public property nonetheless.

Any type of graffiti vandalism is upsetting and disconcerting for the residents that take pride in their community. It even creates fear and anxiety as these types of vandalism is symbolic of lawlessness and increased crime. It is important to quickly address all forms of graffiti and reverse the damages to maintain a clean and safe environment, while communicating to the community that order is in place.

When implementing graffiti prevention strategies, make sure that all of these various graffiti “styles & techniques” are being addressed as well. Keep in mind that products that help simplify removal of paint won’t stop surface etchings, or systems that detect the sound of aerosol spray cans only work for taggers using spray paint. Therefore, it’s important to proactively stop the source of the crime – the taggers committing the crime – rather than reactively focusing on the crime they committed,  in order to fight the crime altogether.

Clock

Crime may increase as Daylight Saving Time ends

Fall season ushers in shorter days and increased hours of darkness, where crime can flourish. As Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends, be alert and vigilant.

The daylight hours help to deter criminal behavior, as shown in the Stanford University published study conducted by Nicholas Sanders and Jennifer Doleac.  Researchers found, for instance, that robbery rates decrease by an average of 51% during the hour of sunset following the shift to DST in the spring. Criminals seize the veil of darkness to carry out their unlawful activity. The risk of being seen by witnesses  or getting caught is likelier in daylight and is its own form of crime deterrence. In the study Sanders and Doleac conclude, “Taken as a whole, results support our hypothesis that effects are driven by criminal response to probability of identification and capture.” They affirm that the majority effect of the lowered crime rate “is due to deterrence” during the affected hour of DST.

When crime increases, the challenges to prevent criminal activity also increase, and the need to stop the cyclical pattern that often occurs. Some offenders see it as a game. Beat them at their own game by setting up crime preventions and stopping the offenders before it happens.