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Cameras on the kids cause pause and debate

October 12, 2011

Some grants are better than others. This one seemed like a no-brainer. At first.

$44,000 for security cameras at the high school. Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) sounds nice enough. Kinda neat. The superintendent was all for it. He toured the schools and found vandalism everywhere. Seeking to protect the high school “our most costly investment,” he bought into the spying cameras and informed the school committee of his decision. $30,000 worth of vandalism, he said, screamed for cameras. The Lynn Item quoted Jonathan Lederman as asserting that the grant would “return far more” in savings than the matching funds the schools must also cough up. All the stars were in alignment. Except one. School Committee Member Tom Connolly, last election’s top vote-getter, questioned the move on two counts: (1) can anyone guarantee what Lederman asserted; that there would be savings of $30,o00? Or any savings at all? No one could. And (2) isn’t it better to rely on the administrators and the system that is already in place to solve the problem? “Real courage is rejecting security blankets and putting faith in human discipline.” Dr. Maass said that cameras cause a decrease in vandalism, seeming to contradict his previous refusal to guarantee anything. Dick Nohelty, Vice Chairman, wanted to know where the $44,o00 matching money was coming from in a year of serious budget constraints. Lederman suggested that the grant approval was a surprise; they never thought they would get it.

It’s true what they say about sausages and politics. One thing in favor of sausages, though: they leave a good taste in your mouth.

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