Local schools to install more cameras

Students of Colusa Unified School District who vandalize or steal school property may soon find out just has easy it will be to get caught. That goes for adults too, if they’ve broken the law on district property, school officials said.

CUSD Superintendent Dwayne Newman will soon put a request before the Board of Trustees to approve the purchase of more cameras that will focus on all public areas on the campuses, after a rash of vandalism and theft at the schools, he said at the Feb. 13 school board meeting.

“While our initial thought about installing cameras on campuses was to deter people from entering campus inappropriately, there is certainly a good argument to be made that if we had more cameras in more places – just in the public areas and areas that we know attract problems – that we could catch people who are doing these things,” Newman said. “Hopefully, we can deter future crime, and the crime of student misbehavior.”

Newman said that while most of the recent vandalism was relativly minor, there has been increasing misconduct by students.

The district will file a report with the Colusa Police Department once all damage and thefts are documented. The total dollar amount of the damage will decide whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony, Newman said.

Damage and theft are not restricted to just one campus, or to just the schools.

In addition to the vending machine at Egling Middle School being broken and candy taken, the theft of property and vandalism at Burchfield, including the slashing of tires on an ATV, and an earlier incident of people driving on the field at Colusa High School, theft within the city of Colusa, particularly the west side of town, has also increased, said Colusa Police Sgt. Elden Tamez.
Tamez said most theft and vandalism are crimes of opportunity.
In Colusa, individuals continue to pilfer through unlocked cars, despite repeated instruction from police for residents to lock their vehicles.

“They’re not car burglaries; they are thefts because the cars were unlocked,” Tamez said. “What was taken was change and paperwork, and a GPS tool bag that was left in the car.”

Tamez said that if people would take the time to lock their cars, it would take care of a lot of this sort of crime.

As for the school districts, both Colusa and Maxwell plan to install additional cameras in public areas.

Officials admit the plan is a departure from the original philosophy that such security measures were only necessary for the protection of children from things like kidnapping. Most, however, feel it is necessary now for the protection of public property.

“Unfortunately, we are not in Mayberry RFD anymore,” said Trustee Kathy Whitesell.

Newman said he anticipates additional cameras, including cameras inside the gymnasium, will cost approximately $10,000.

“I don’t think we will put cameras everywhere, but I think it makes sense to identify areas where we could potentially (have problems),” he said.

Maxwell Unified officials spoke of their need for additional cameras at the school board meeting on Feb. 14. Local businesses have also installed additional cameras due to vandalism and burglary.

Sg. Tamez asks anyone who sees suspicious behavior to call the Colusa Police Department at 458-7777. ■