Effectiveness of security cameras at UHS

Staff Writer
Security cameras have been used at UHS for at least 5 years. However, their effectiveness in capturing or deterring campus crimes has come into question after the UHS vs. Woodbridge football GOW posters were recently torn down.
Although the security cameras record continuously, no one is hired solely to monitor the security cameras regularly. All assistant principals and campus security, however, have access to the feed.
The security cameras are placed in locations where many students tend to spend a lot of their time. For example, there are cameras next to the theater, near the back entrance of the band room, one on top of the “Diversity” mural and another one in the corner between the teacher’s lounge and the cafeteria. All of these areas experience heavy student traffic both during school and after hours.
“A lot of the times we’re just looking when something’s happening and we’re trying to find info, but there are times when the security guards will just have it running,” said Mr. Michael Georgino (Asst. Principal).
Although the purpose of the cameras is to help security in case of vandalism, thievery or other issues around campus, the cameras could not aid campus security when Latin teacher Mr. Mark Michalak’s (World Languages) room was broken into. This is due to the fact that not every location around campus has a security camera placed near it.
Many on campus still advocate for the cameras. “Somebody hit my truck while it was parked in the parking lot and ran. The security cameras were pointed in that direction, but they weren’t working,” said Mr. Eric Davies (Science Dept.). “I’m for the cameras. It’ll keep the vandalism down.”
In spite of the fact that not all the cameras installed are working, some say their presence is still enough to deter students from breaking rules. “I knew [the cameras] existed at school because I know there’s one in front of the band storage room,” said Annie Koo (Jr.). “I think this one does its job because people that aren’t in band stay out of that room and there hasn’t been anything stolen, as far as I know.”
Despite how the cameras may deter crime near the band room and other places, other members of the school claim that the slight help they may or may not provide is not worth the time, money and effort spent maintaining them. UHS’s Fine Arts program and other extra curricular programs are always looking for funding, and many claim that they could use the extra money more productively than the school has with the cameras.
Celine Kim (Jr.) is in favor of redirecting camera funds towards fine arts, sports and other programs. “We already have security driving around campus, but they are honestly only there so kids don’t skip class. Even if kids do something illegal, they wouldn’t do it out in the open where the cameras are.”
Other students are not even aware that there are security cameras at the school or how they affect campus safety. “I don’t think a lot of students know these cameras exist,” Armon Tahbaz (Jr.) said. “I don’t believe it helps school safety.”
UHS is not the only IUSD school to have security cameras.
In the School Funding Survey (LCAP) Question and Answers, Irvine Unified School District said, “The security funds allocated in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) are earmarked to support the maintenance and operations of security cameras throughout the District. Maintaining this equipment is critical to supporting safety at all schools.”
The same situation is seen in schools such as Northwood High School and Irvine High School; the administration takes care of the security cameras.
The security cameras are part of the district’s effort to help students feel safer on campus.“One of our biggest roles is to make sure students are in a safe environment where they feel safe to learn, to socialize, to be here on campus and to feel welcome,” Georgino said. “The cameras are just one tool in that toolbox to try to keep us safe.”