Destruction Leads to Surveillance
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 10:11
On a chilly October morning, Lyndon State College Music Business and Industry freshman Dylan Frazier came out to the Stonehenge parking lot and immediately noticed the imprints of a size thirteen shoe in the side paneling of his car.
"There were kicks on every panel of the car," said Frazier. "A dent in the front left, one on each of the driver's side doors, even some footsteps on the hood."
Knowing that other students had reported similar instances, Frazier contacted Public Safety.
"I talked to Public Safety. They had me file a report. They gave me the numbers to call if I wanted to talk to the State Troopers. But there wasn't really anything that could be done."
Public Safety assists students who have been affected by an act of vehicular vandalism by having them fill out an incident report, and then providing them with the number for the state police so they can file a report that can be given to an insurance company.
However, without a witness to the incident, a case such as Frazier's can be difficult to solve.
"In the case of vehicle vandalism, I'm going to say a majority of the cases go unsolved," said Associate Dean of Student Affairs Jonathan Davis. "The best thing that happens out of it is that the student is able to get an official report for their insurance company."
The damage done to Frazier's car is not uncommon within the Stonehenge parking lot.
"We've had a number of instances in my five years that I've been here, and Stonehenge has been a problem right along. We thought with the new lights there would be less of a problem, but we still have problems there," said Director of Public Safety at LSC, George Hacking. "We've had damage to the parking lot; we've had damage to the butt hut. Does that mean that those who damage the butt hut also damaged cars? No. All I can tell you is that there is foolishness going on in both areas."
The butt hut has been moved from place to place and gone through a series of transformations since it was first placed on LSC property. At one time it had Plexiglas windows, railings to lean against, proper dispensers and receptacles in and around it. As time passed, the changes became significant
"The Plexiglas was destroyed. Some of the railings were destroyed. The graffiti started to appear. The cigarettes butts around it were in the thousands that were not thrown away properly," said Davis. Administration decided that moving the butt hut and lighting it up inside would be a good opportunity to see if things would change. Many have noticed that things have not changed.
"The same problems still exist. There's been vandalism to the structure itself. Someone destroyed all the remaining railings. Kicked out all the slates. It's now just a roof with some supports and a flat standing surface. The graffiti has increased. The lighting system inside has been vandalized," said Davis.
To prevent acts of vandalism, as well as increase safety for students, faculty, and administration, the idea being kicked around is to place cameras in various spots throughout the Stonehenge and Vail parking lots.
"Various college emergencies that have taken place in the news and current events, like Virginia Tech and some others, have really put us all, higher education, on high alert in terms of the safety of the campus," said Davis. "We have swipe card security for residence halls. We have our public safety staff that's on duty all the time. We have an emergency alert system. One of the things we don't have is any kind of surveillance. We came to the conclusion that our goal would be to protect the entrances and exits to the campus first."
Last week members of the administration, including Davis and Hacking, met with Signet, a company out of Massachusetts that LSC has a history with, and began a dialogue on what the college's objectives are when it comes to installing a network of cameras in the parking lots.
"We don't want to get junk," said Hacking. "Getting something that really isn't going to help you just to say that you have cameras isn't worth doing. If we're going to do it, we want to get something that we're going to be able to use and also something that the students will buy into. Once we have everybody's agreement that this is what we need, this is what we should be capturing with the camera, then hopefully we can go forward."
Ideally, the system the college is looking for would run a series of cameras through the college's database without switching the system that is already in place.
"The system would have some recording capability which would be on the IT side, which would be storing high resolution images and video on a server," said Assistant Chief Technology Officer, Michael Dente. "Gone are the days it's on a magnetic tape; it's all on the server now. There would be some storage aspect to it. The cameras themselves would be on the network. They'd be running over fiber optics using IP (internet protocol) based cameras. They would run back through the network."
Having cameras could play a role in reducing acts of vandalism, like what has occurred at the butt hut and throughout the Stonehenge parking lot.