Bri’s 30th Birthday originally uploaded by Daniel
A couple of weeks ago I covered the vandalism problem which has recently plagued the MVTA’s Apple Valley Transit Station and following my private communications with others, apparently other transit stations under the MVTA’s purview as well. The research I did then created a slew of new questions regarding how the MVTA operates the $98,000 security camera system, how they patrol the site, and how these decisions impact taxpayers funding the MVTA and our facilities.
The main issue I had was that the MVTA did not report the acts of vandalism to the police even though they likely had video evidence of the crimes being committed. I simply could not fathom how the taxpayers funded a $98,000+ expenditure for a security camera system which was not being used to recoup any of its original cost. After repeated requests to view the security camera footage I was finally granted access to view excerpted videos chosen by MVTA staff off-site at the old Apple Valley Transit Station.
Two quick notes about the camera system:
1. The camera feeds are only activated when there is motion in front of the camera. While a single DVR may contain the video feeds from multiple cameras, the motion activation limits the amount of viewable data stored on the DVR thus making reviewing the cameras’ feeds much easier (depending on the camera in question).
2. The cameras themselves take excellent video which would certainly be clear enough to make a positive identification of a suspect(s). I was told that while you can see images at night (I chose not to view these myself) the quality is severely degraded.
The MVTA staff members I met with (Customer Service Manager and the individual tasked with, among other things, reviewing the video feeds on a regular and ad-hoc basis) were basically unhelpful. It was pretty clear to me from the outset that they were not planning on answering any of my questions and they were there basically to show me the videos, claim that they don’t have any time to support the $98,000+ security system, and that it’s just there for show.
I was told over and over again that the cost/benefit ratio just didn’t make sense for them to review the tapes for vandalism crime. Regardless of what questions I asked about how long it would take to view taped data which was only recorded when motion activated the cameras they refused to acknowledge that it was worth their time. At one point they mentioned that the issues being dealt with were just not serious enough to warrant what I was expecting. When I asked, “do you not consider a hate crime to be serious,” (while referring to the anti-semetic comment) the MVTA staffer who normally reviews the tapes became visibly upset, stood up from his chair, refused to look at me, and said that he was uncomfortable with my questions and I’d be best served by asking any other questions through their main office via written request. Now I know why the MVTA’s Customer Service Manager refuses to allow me to deal with anyone except her directly–these people are incapable of acting in a professional manner.
Following my examination of the system’s capabilities and their procedures around it, what this comes down to is a very expensive security system which is only a facade. While they claim that it is not cost effective to check for issues which crop up and could be solved by the cameras, they forget that it cost $98,700 to install and it was meant to recoup its loss over time by deterring and then also helping to apprehend those who break the law. If the MVTA is going to refuse to use this very expensive system as it was intended, they would be much better off by disconnecting it entirely and leaving the cameras in place instead. They’d be able to recoup some of the cost by selling off the back end equipment and the monthly electricity the system uses. As of right now they basically have a couple of cameras, a couple of signs that the area is under surveillance and a very expensive bill hanging over the taxpayers for something which should have cost 1/100th what it did.
Overall I was again disappointed by how the system and my requests for information were handled by the MVTA. Instead of doing what is right and agreeing to take a look at their current inadequate processes and make the necessary modifications to utilize the system as it was intended, they outright refused to do anything but continue to waste tax dollars while pretending they’re being cost effective. I urge you to pressure you local MVTA Board members to ask why this expenditure was made and why it isn’t being used as it was obviously intended. These are OUR tax dollars they are wasting. Would the entire transit station have cost $21 million if they had cut out all the unnecessary fluff which they never intend on fulling using and/or supporting? I doubt it.
You’ve heard what I had to say. What do you think about it?