Carmel High reexamines impact of security cameras

Across the nation, high school security is increasing. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, during the 2009-10 school year 84 percent of high schools across the nation used security cameras to monitor student activity, and according to the National Association of School Psychologists, 70 percent of all K-12 schools in 2009-10 used security cameras, up from 19 percent in 1999-00.

At Carmel High, however, only one security camera can be found. It sits on top of the office and faces the intersection in front of the Center for the Performing Arts. According to assistant principal Martin Enriquez, there isn’t much more to the camera than meets the eye.

security cam“Unfortunately—this is a well-kept secret here—it does not really work well,” Enriquez says. “When it does work, you can see what is going on, but it is difficult to identify who is in the shot. So really, it doesn’t meet our needs.”

Although the camera doesn’t work properly some of the time, Enriquez says that students still think it works and aren’t as likely to do anything illegal in front of it.

Even though Carmel High doesn’t have an extremely high crime rate, there has been talk of installing a full security camera system, and Enriquez believes one is necessary.

“I think [cameras] are necessary given the fact that we have expensive buildings,” Enriquez says. “We have the theater, and you break one of those windows, that thing will cost you thousands of dollars.”

Enriquez explains there has been talk of installing a security system, but nothing would likely happen until the new construction on campus has completed, including the administration building project that will begin in the summer.

While there hasn’t been any “backlash” to the proposition of a system, Enriquez says administration needs to determine on what scale to invest.

“You can go anywhere from your basic cameras that don’t do much to ones that sit there and record to the motion detecting type to the heat censoring type to ones that record at night and don’t need a lot of light, so you can go up into thousands and thousands of dollars,” Enriquez explains. “It is one of those things where we need to determine what we need, how many we need, but I don’t think there is really a debate whether we need them or not.”

Enriquez believes installing cameras would not only help decrease vandalism, but also solve problems that happen in the parking lot.

Chris Good’s car was recently burglarized by the tennis courts. The CHS junior came down after to school to find his back windshield smashed in and some of his possessions were taken, such as his music recording equipment, film recording equipment and a camera.

“Some couple was pulled over for reckless driving up in Marin County,” Good says. “They turned out to be off parole, driving a car full of stolen items (including everything that had been stolen from my car). It’s a happy ending.”

Even though things turned out well for Good, he and Enriquez agree that security cameras are necessary to monitor parking lots.

“There are some issues in the parking lot that do happen, whether it is a fender bender or even a break in,” Enriquez notes. “I think our kids can be targeted, [cameras] will be helpful.”

Another high crime area of campus is the locker rooms. Despite the security measures taken by the physical education teachers like giving a locker to each individual students and locking the doors during class, items such as phones and iPods are often stolen.

P.E. teacher Debbie French says many security measures are in place to prevent robbery.

“We as P.E. teachers assign a locker to an individual student,” French says. “We tell them not to share, and we only give out the combinations, and combinations can only be between students and staff, so that should be sufficient security. We lock both the back and front doors, so the locker rooms shouldn’t be available.”

Freshman Stella Trapin had her brand new iPhone 5S stolen from the P.E. locker room. The thieves stole two other phones and one of her friend’s Chromebooks. Although she never figured out who stole it, it was returned to her after a man bought her phone from a kid on Cannery Row. Trapin says she and her friends didn’t previously secure their lockers, but since the incident they started doing so.

“Before this happened we did not lock our lockers during class because there is a usually a teacher in there, so we never thought about anything getting stolen,” Trapin says. “Now we do lock our lockers every day!”

Even though most of the robberies that occur happen when students do not lock their items in their lockers,
French says that security cameras outside the entrances to the locker rooms would deter students from stealing.

“I think just having the presence of something there…you could always go back and see who was there,” French notes. “I think it would narrow your search, so to speak, so if something did get stolen, you could see who went in and out.”

-Edie Ellison