Active Prevention the Key to School Safety

Amidst the talk of upcoming changes to security within the halls of Seaholm, a critical truth is being overlooked.  While administrators at the school and district levels discuss the potential of upcoming changes, they do not discuss that our current security measures are ineffective at crime prevention.

On January 23rd, three minors broke into a Seaholm locker room, proving that exact point.  The trio, who, according to Seaholm principal Dee Lancaster, are not Seaholm students, entered the room during a wrestling meet and proceeded to steal items from a Seaholm student.  They then moved to the parking lot and vandalized at least one vehicle there.  Security cameras positioned outside the locker room were able to catch them in the act, and they have since been identified.

What’s important to realize, however, is that while the cameras could help identify the suspects, they failed in actually preventing the crime in the first place.

On February 5th, 2013, the district presented information to the Board of Education that outlined safety recommendations for schools.  Among other suggestions, it highlighted a critical aspect of crime prevention: proactive measures to prevent crime from actually occurring.

There are two halves to every counter-crime effort: the half that prevents the crime, and the half that wraps up the aftermath.  While our security can handle the latter just fine, the first half is gravely overlooked.

Security cameras are an excellent example of this.  They are not an effective means of prevention.  They serve to close the barn doors after the horses have escaped – to identify suspects after the fact and aid in recovering from the crime, as opposed to directly preventing it.  It’s time to address that.

While cameras are certainly necessary, we need to focus more on active prevention methods.  The district has already displayed interest, which is an encouraging step.  In addition to the January 23rd presentation, the district is willing to spend money on enacting more active prevention going forward.  Deputy Superintendent Paul DeAngelis described a plan whereby each building would receive funding to the tune of $40,000 each for a variety of new measures, including new visual recognition systems like the $11,000 system installed at Pierce Elementary School. That’s the kind of proactive mindset that we need to address security problems.

However, the most important step for active prevention is something that every student can abide by: diligence.  Every student and faculty member has the responsibility to make sure their items are safe.  We see things like locker break-ins and vandalism when these responsibilities are shirked.

According to Lancaster, the January 23rd break-ins were possible because the locker room door was left open and the victim failed to ensure the security of his property.  Sure, it’s more convenient to leave the door unlocked or the locker combination near completion, but at the same time, it’s inviting disaster.

Diligence is a critical factor behind the idea of active crime prevention, and that’s the kind of prevention we need to focus on.

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