Keeping an eye on Newton [Hickory Daily Record, N.C.]
(Hickory Daily Record (NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 19--NEWTON, N.C. -- Before the Soldiers Reunion in August, the city of Newton installed two new cameras in the downtown area for extra security.
We asked Newton Police Chief Don Brown give us some details about the new cameras, as well as existing cameras, and explain their impact on the city and its residents.
-How many cameras are there and where are they located?
Currently we have 42 cameras, but will be adding a few more this year. Over the past couple of years we've added cameras to monitor all city facilities, parks, cemeteries, electric substations, and the city's water supply.
We also have two wireless cameras that we strategically place to monitor activities. One example was during the Soldiers Reunion parade when we placed two cameras around the downtown square in case we had any problems. In fact, one of those cameras later helped solve a crime.
-What crimes have the cameras been used to help solve?
We captured images of the suspect in the August church break-ins with one of the cameras set up downtown. Once we established our suspect, we looked at the video and saw the suspect in the downtown area around the time First United Methodist Church was broken into.
A camera helped us identify the suspect in a break-in at the recreation center pool concession stand, and we've used the cameras to investigate copper theft.
The cameras are also a deterrent for unlawful activities in our parks. We have on a number of occasions sent patrol cars to investigate individuals violating park rules.
-Do the cameras record 24/7?
We have some that record all the time and some that record only when the camera senses motion.
-How long are the recorded videos kept?
Currently we are able to save up to a month of video.
-How does the police department use the videos captured by the cameras?
The police department only uses the video for law enforcement purposes. The only video that is retained indefinitely is footage that is preserved for evidence purposes.
-Are the cameras a deterrent to crime?
We have signs at our facilities that indicate there are surveillance cameras present. We have seen a dramatic decrease in loitering and drug activities in our parks.
-What was the cost of the cameras and their installation?
Our Information Systems Department installs two different types of outdoor cameras.
One is a low-cost fixed camera for areas such as doorways or a parking lot. Those cost about $500 each and there are 34 of them.
The other type of camera is a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera that can patrol a much larger area. The PTZ camera can be remotely controlled by an officer in our communications center or from within a patrol car. We have two mobile PTZ cameras and six fixed PTZ cameras. They cost about $2,500 each.
The camera project has been ongoing for approximately five years so the cost has been spread out. We can estimate a cost of $37,000 for the cameras. The city's IT department configures the cameras and city crews install them, so the labor is performed by staff.
-Is someone assigned to monitor the cameras?
The monitors for the cameras are in our communications center. Our communications staff is in the center 24/7 and can see what the cameras see on a live feed transmitted over Newton's Wi-Fi network. Some cameras are on motion sensors, and when the cameras sense motion, the monitors light up to alert our communications staff.
-What is the quality of the video captured by the cameras? Can it be used to identify faces, license plate numbers, etc.?
The PTZ cameras are 1080p and can zoom in on an individual's face. We do not have any license plate readers.
(c)2013 the Hickory Daily Record (Hickory, N.C.)
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