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Park with trees

Show Your Parks Some Extra Love – Prevent Vandalism

It’s Parks and Rec month.  Let’s celebrate all the joy these parks bring to our communities!  We all know how much Parks and Recreation committees lo♥e what they do.  And we know how important it is to have a good image of our parks and recreational facilities.  A park image that is presentable to the community promotes opportunity and keeps its users happy. Keeping the parks and rec areas clean and safe from vandalism and trespassing, is a big part of that image.

Rules are another way to lo♥e our parks.  Having rules for parks and recreational centers creates a secure environment.  If parks and recreation agencies develop and adopt enforceable standards and guidelines for the land and facilities related to their use, there is less opportunity for mischief.   Although most parks have  certain set hours of when the park and rec center is open to the public, it can be hard to enforce. But monitoring and enforcing is another way to love your parks.  Give a presentable image by monitoring the vandalism and trespassing concern areas of the property and facilities and enforce when rules are broken.

Give your parks extra lo♥e this month by expanding a secure area for its users, and deterring nuisances—such as trespassing after hours, vandalism, and gang activity.  Deterring vandalism helps the overall image of the parks by forming a clean, safe atmosphere.  Protect your parks and activity centers and prevent rules from being broken by installing a means of crime deterrent.  Set up a visible camera system to mandate that the rules are being followed, even while you aren’t watching.

Investigate, study and recommend these needed improvements this month to your city council to deter the vandalism and trespassing concerns. According to the study done by the National Recreation and Park Association, by creating safe park environments, you enhance community wellness.  When the community is happy, it makes the operations of the Parks Department more efficient and effective.  It will pay off because your community will end up lo♥ing your parks and rec centers just as much as you already do.  Now that’s something to celebrate!

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.

No graffiti tonight

Stop School Graffiti

Over the Christmas weekend, a school in Bundaberg Australia experienced graffiti on their walls.  The vandals painted “tags and vulgar language” with flares on the side of the school building. Bundaberg‘s relieving officer-in-command, Glen Cameron, states, “Over the school holidays police actively increase their patrols in these areas in an attempt to prevent offences like this occurring.” Graffiti in schools does not just occur in a vacuum. If police increased their patrols, what are locals doing in stopping school graffiti?

“But assistance from members of the public goes a long way to preventing antisocial behavior in and around school grounds.”, says Cameron. The police can only do so much. They enforce the law and prevent nuisance crimes as much as their resources and tools allow them, but vandalism in schools is a social problem that communities need to address.  Preventing “antisocial behavior” could lead to preventing vandalism in schools.

The fact that “vulgar language” is being sprayed on school property asks two questions. Why is the language vulgar? And why does it happen on school grounds? Teenagers can be rebellious and sometimes antisocial toward society, but who sets their boundaries? They do, but initially boundaries  start at the home. Vulgar language is probably used by their friend groups and local communities. Once “vulgar language” is spoken, usually others copy.

The next question is why at a school? The school gives them homework, has rules, and has authority. Vandals probably don’t like authority, and the school becomes the perfect target. These antisocial crimes do not just occur without reason. Being anti-authoritative could be one of the causes. The Center for Police-Oriented Policing says graffiti sprayers are usually associated with other illegal activity. There is a culture that goes along with graffiti spraying, and usually, it is not positive.

The police of Bundaberg urge the community to contact the police if anyone sees suspicious activity around the schools. Why didn’t anyone contact them? Did no one see them? That could be true, but part of being a community is being aware of suspicious activity. Communities around the globe should be actively setting consistent boundaries and be aware of unusual local activity. Seeking ways to create a culture that stops school graffiti can be hard, but should be done, because it starts with “assistance” from the community.