Small Town Security

Small Town Security

I grew up in a small town, or what I would like to think of as one. Everyone knew everyone and you couldn’t make it through one trip to WalMart without your mother stopping to catch up with at least three or four other people. In my small town, we didn’t lock our doors at night or think about acquiring a camera for our doorbell (our door was always open, we could see who was coming up through the screen door) much less the businesses in our area looking into surveillance or access control systems.

My, how times have changed. Even the smallest of towns have even the most basic level of security, an incline from what was seen just 20 years ago. An example of security making it to small towns came just within the last two weeks, coupled with a tragic incident that left a mother of three dead in a community church.

Midlothian, Texas sits just 30 miles south east of Dallas/Fort Worth and is home to around 2,000 people. The city has been described as quiet, quaint and small in the recent media reports covering the gruesome murder of a Midlothian fitness instructor, Missy Bevers, who was entering Creekside Church of Christ at 4:17 a.m. to get ready for a 5 a.m. fitness class that she would have been leading that day.

Unbeknownst to her, someone had already made a forced entry into the church just half an hour before she arrived and police believe that Bevers was in the church for less than 10 minutes before she was murdered by blunt force trauma to the head with an unknown weapon.

The crime was so out of character for the small town of Midlothian that at first, police didn’t even know where to start. It was later revealed that the murder of Bevers was the first homicide in the Texas town in over 7 years; a statistic that goes to show the safe Midlothians felt before the April 18th murder of Bevers.

One thing that gave the police somewhere to start was the knowledge that the Creekside Church of Christ had surveillance cameras in their facility. The cameras were motion activated and placed somewhat hazardously throughout the building, but they proved to be the break in the case that the police needed to help identify the suspect in the murder case.

The motion-detection cameras were able to capture several images of a suspect dressed in what appears to be police tactical clothing, including a helmet and vest with patches that read, “POLICE” on the front and back. It is unknown at this time if the gear is authentic, but what police do know is that the suspect has a very unique gait – leading them to believe the culprit could be either a man or a woman.

All that evidence was found on the surveillance system deployed by the Creekside Church, otherwise the police would have barely any information on the suspect at all. Police involved in a separate small town wouldn’t be so lucky when sifting through evidence in the investigation of eight murders at four different crime scenes in the small town of Piketon, Ohio.

The investigation, named by the media as the Piketon Massacre, has baffled the majority of spectators in the United States much less those in the small town. The destruction, which spans over four different crime scenes within 30 rural miles of each other, includes eight victims of the same family, all killed execution style. The majority were shot in their own beds in the early hours of the morning.

Details of the investigation were slow to be released, with the first media reports saying that there were seven murders in only three locations until about four hours later when the eighth victim was found. Three children were found to have survived the shootings, ages ranging from four days to three years old.

What makes this case impossible to figure out, is the fact that these small rural homes had absolutely no alarms, surveillance or emergency systems to help contact authorities or show evidence for law enforcement now working tirelessly on the case.

Based on the evidence at the crime scenes, the police are able to release the belief that the murders were “targeted” and “pre-planned.” Since the day of the massacre police have found marijuana grow operations at three of the four crime scenes and have also looked into threats found on social media websites. Police say that while there isn’t a motive for the crime, they are not ruling out any scenario, lead or tip in order to find the culprit or culprits.

Through these two very recent news stories, we can see the effects that small town life can have on a police investigation. Without surveillance footage, or access control systems, there isn’t any way to help authorities establish a timeline with concrete evidence. While I understand that the main reason that small towns often go without established surveillance systems is money, there are plenty of systems made for residential security that comes sans the expensive price tag.

Just setting up one security camera could be the difference between never knowing and putting a criminal behind bars.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Apr 28, 2016

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