Park Vandalism Affects our Community

Park Vandalism Affects our Community

Our community’s public parks were built in order to bring recreation and joy to all who patronize them. Why certain individuals decide to vandalize these wonderful places, we may never fully know. Whether it’s to blow off steam or mindless boredom, the fact remains that our parks are easily accessible to the public, and as such, will continue to be a likely target for would-be vandals. What these vandals obviously do not take into consideration, however, is the toll the consequences of their actions have on the community that enjoys visiting these beautiful places.

In addition to the physical dangers vandalism incurs at our parks, the emotional distress that park patrons suffer upon learning they are victims of this heinous crime is also of serious concern. “The impact of vandalism, as well as other related crime, on victims results in emotional, psychological, physical, financial, social, and spiritual consequences” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2006). Children who frequent parks are inspired to develop their creative imagination and social bonds when they are engaged in what’s known as “free play”. In the event of park closure due to an act of vandalism, children are deprived of this emotional development which can lead to complications such as depression and anxiety in social situations. A child may not fully comprehend how or why someone has vandalized their play area, leading to acting out anger episodes and fits.

When a Virginia Beach park’s playground equipment was vandalized with derogatory sayings in January of 2015, children who had regularly enjoyed the park were visibly upset by the act. Izabella Garcia told ABC news, “It makes me feel uncomfortable to be on the swings and look at what they wrote. It just makes me feel like I shouldn’t be there.” Izabella mentioned that it makes her not want to play there anymore, which shows firsthand the distress vandalism causes to children.

Parks that suffer from recurrent vandalism may be perceived by community members that neighborhood crime is on the rise, causing fear, mistrust, and anxiety towards other residents. This type of personal isolation leaves a community more susceptible and vulnerable to further crime and acts of violence. Forcing the neighborhood in which one lives down a dark road of crime and urban decay. 

It is important the parks departments deter these nuisance crimes to prevent the emotional distress these crimes cause the community.

Vandalism at city owned and maintained parks occurs all too often

Vandalism Costs Parks

Vandalism at city owned and maintained parks occurs all too often. The various aftermath effects incurred from this type of crime delve deeper than what is on the surface. The effect that strikes the hardest is the cost of repair due to vandalism.

Playground equipment can cost as much as $150,000.

Without the proper funds to repair vandalized playground equipment, child safety comes into question and the area where the damage has occurred will have to be closed to the public. Vandalized maintenance equipment can cost thousands of dollars to repair and the park cannot be properly maintained. Due to the already tight budgets allocated to city parks, it can take weeks or months before a park can be reopened to be enjoyed by the public once again.

When vandalism befalls one of our national parks, the consequences can prove disastrous. Fragile ecosystems can be rendered unrepairable from illegal dumping or littering, causing lakes and streams to become polluted. Natural rock formations and caves adorned with much graffiti are beautiful no more. When these gorgeous areas are defaced, it costs everyone, as they are meant to be enjoyed by all. Money spent to repair a vandalized national park would be better spent to improve their natural beauty and a park patron’s experience.

It is important to try to prevent park assets from being vandalized. These assets often include playground equipment, trashcans, restroom facilities, tables and benches, and recreational structures. All these items can cost quite a bit to repair or replace.  Prevention, crime deterrent methods, are better than repair and replace. We must do what is in our power to keep our beautiful parks open for all to enjoy.


Are Video Surveillance Systems Proactive Solutions for School Vandalism?

Recently, there was a heartbreaking vandalism incident at Albuquerque Public Schools, NM.  The Albuquerque Journal reported the estimated cost of damage to be more than $80,000. The school had a video surveillance system in place, and the captured video has been released on their Facebook page.

In the video, there appears to be three girls in a restricted area scanning the space.  The surveillance system continues to pan across, away from the suspects, and ultimately faces the wall. By the time the camera pans back to where the suspects were first seen, the video shows the last suspect climbing over a wall with what appears to be a hammer in one hand. This video system successfully captured evidence of the suspects entering the school, but did not help protect the school from the $80,000 destruction from taking place. These suspects “pretty much trashed and broke as much as they could,” said John Dufay, Albuquerque Public Schools Executive Director of Operations.

Nothing is more frustrating when viewing the video images than seeing the three suspects clearly enter the facility, but not being able to clearly identify the suspects due to the limited resolution and image clarity. There is solid evidence of them entering the facility, but who are they? If the school had supplemental tools that captured higher resolution images for identification purposes to complement the video system, or ideally even stopped the vandals from even entering the school, less time and resources would be required to reverse this extreme case of vandalism. Imagine the amount of time it takes to find these few seconds of the suspects captured on video, having to fast forward through several days of footage after a holiday break?

Vandalism prevention efforts are ultimately more efficient by costing less money and time. In addition to the required resources to reverse and repair these damages, the emotional impact that school vandalism has on the students and faculty cannot be overlooked. It is critical to implement a game plan to protect schools from these types of nuisance crimes proactively as a  long term strategy for maintaining school safety.

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Milder Winter Calls for Proactive Graffiti Prevention Strategies

There could be more than presents and eggnog showing up this Christmas season. Crime could be on the rise compared to previous winters, with this milder weather ahead of us. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the winter of 2015-2016 is predicted to be warmer due to the current El Niño weather pattern. Many people in the Northeast regions are even unlikely to have a white Christmas.

This predicted warmer winter means people will be more active outdoors compared to previous winters. This overall increased activity will unfortunately also include unwanted nuisance crimes such as gang activity or graffiti vandalism.  There seems to be a consistent trend that indicates warmer weather leads to higher crime rates.  With the possibility of this increase in criminal activity, cities should continue to take proactive graffiti prevention measures even during the winter months.

We’ve seen record low temperatures and heavy snowfall in many regions these past recent winters, where cities were experiencing reduced overall activity during these colder months, including graffiti vandalism.  Cities work in cycles and during this time of the year, police departments typically alter their policing strategies for winter predictions when “law-breaking slows when it’s cold, and picks up as the temperature rises.” However, this winter these strategies should be reevaluated and implement more proactive graffiti prevention plans since crime may increase compared to previous years.