Carmel Police Department implements online vacation checks, focuses on residents’ safety

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Carmel Police Department implements online vacation checks, focuses on residents’ safety

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Currently, CHS is in the process of improving its standard of safety for students so as to provide a positive learning environment.

Assistant Principal Joseph Schaller said CHS tries to be constantly alert of its surroundings as a rule of thumb.

He also said, “It can be severe weather. When those sort of things do happen, that’s what we prepare for and I think we do a pretty good job with our drills.”

w.Peng.Police Alt 2Sergeant Phil Hobson, Carmel Police Officer and school resources officer (SRO), has a point of view similar to Schaller’s.

“The issues you deal with in the community are usually reflective of what you see in the school … I think the good thing about Carmel is there is a good buy-in from families and students. They want a safe environment so they work hard with us to ensure we have that,” Hobson said. 

HALL DUTY: Sergeant Phil Hobson, CHS School Resources Officer, converses with a student in the freshman cafeteria. He said, “We (officers) work with the school very closely on what we would say is an ‘all hazards approach’ to security.”

HALL DUTY: Sergeant Phil Hobson, CHS School Resources Officer, converses with a student in the freshman cafeteria. He said, “We (officers) work with the school very closely on what we would say is an ‘all hazards approach’ to security.” ALEX YOM / PHOTO

The Carmel Police Department recently started offering online vacation check requests. Interested Carmel residents can submit an online form detailing when they will vacation. In return, the Carmel Police Department will increase patrols to the house and walk the premises.

Hobson said, “There is a preventative effect when people are out of town since there are police driving by their residence more often and maybe checking the doors at their house … I think it’s peace of mind for the people leaving.”

He said there is a misperception with when the vacation checks began and that Carmel offered vacation checks even prior to 1994. Before the online system, residents called the police department directly and gave all the necessary information.

“We’ve always had vacation checks. This is just a system that’ll make it more efficient for the community to request those,” Hobson said.

Senior Joe Seo said he was intrigued and supportive of the idea.

Seo said, “That’s always a bit of concern for my family whenever we go on vacation, to make sure our property is not robbed. I believe, yes, given the current guidelines with the house checks, I would feel much safer with the (checks).”

Seo also said he is one of the many students here who is concerned with school safety and likes to stay updated with the news, especially when it pertains to the safety of the school and community.

“Safety and privacy are something that everyone should have as a fundamental right, and I believe it is important that neither is sacrificed to achieve the other,” Seo said.

Another way many college campuses improve safety is through the police use of body-worn cameras. Early this September, Butler University decided to test pilot body camera systems.

According to Schaller, body cameras for the school’s police officers, known as the SRO’s, could potentially be an avenue for CHS to increase safety.

He said, “I’ve heard it talked about but I don’t think it has really gone into serious stages of implementation. I would assume (the Carmel Police Department) would want to do it with their officers on the streets rather than in the school.” w.Peng.Police Alt 1

In spite of  his support of body cameras, Hobson said implementing such a program faces many issues. He said the issues with cost and compatibility are the main obstacles to adding new body cameras to the police force.

“All of our cars in Operations Division are equipped with digital video cameras. Our car systems do automatic uploads from the car server to the city server so they would have to find cameras that would be compatible with that system and budgetary systems that go along with those costs,” Hobson said.

Seo said he is ambivalent toward the police camera.

“I think given that our police officers do a really good job with remaining vigilant and making sure the school is safe, I don’t think the body cameras would necessarily help,” he said.

Furthermore, Seo said he is worried about possible privacy ramifications of the body cameras.

He said, “I would say anything happening without my knowledge of it or my consent would be an invasion of my privacy.”

One way Hobson said he attempts to improve the safety of the school is through the emphasis of the motto, “If you see something, do something.”

The motto means that if students notice something that bothers them, they should tell someone else about the issue in order to solve it.

Hobson said, “We just want to get services to our kids. I think when we have buy-in from the students, staff and community, it makes it a very safe environment.”

Ultimately, Seo said he believes CHS has done an excellent job maintaining a safe learning environment for everyone.

He said, “Carmel is doing a really good job, and I expect the same in the future.”

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