Council considers installing video surveillance around city

Police chief presents research of camera systems
By Ben Holbrook | Sep 13, 2012

Belfast — Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden presented some initial research he has done into potential camera surveillance systems to install in several areas around the city during the Tuesday, Sept. 4, City Council meeting.

McFadden said he looked at IP MegaPixel cameras because they offer a variety of features and provide high-quality images at a great distance. He said an analog system, such as the one used in the Council chambers, is adequate for a small area, but the quality decreases significantly as the distance between the camera and subject increases.

The Harbor Walk would be the “flagship” system, because it would require the greatest number of cameras, McFadden said. To cover the entire area, the city would need three separate digital video recorders because the system would be divided into different segments, he said.

When considering which cameras to purchase, McFadden said the city could spend between $300 and $400 for a 1.3 megapixel camera. However, the lower megapixel cameras result in lower-quality images, McFadden said. The higher-resolution cameras, which McFadden recommends, cost between $500 and $700 each.

The city would have to spend about $70,000 to install a complete surveillance system along the Harbor Walk, McFadden said.

“I’m talking about a system that will last 100 years out by the harbor,” McFadden said.

Grant money may exist that the city could apply for to help with the cost of installing the systems, McFadden noted.

In addition to having a robust system that can handle the elements along the waterfront, McFadden said, a system that could be monitored remotely would be preferable because he wouldn’t have to send officers to check that the system is functioning properly.

Councilor Marina Delune wondered whether the proposed surveillance is necessary. Delune said she is concerned that people will view the surveillance as an “over-reaction” to a few incidents that occurred during the summer.

McFadden suggested discussing what the councilors want for surveillance in more depth in order to establish more concrete parameters. Councilor Eric Sanders agreed with the idea of establishing parameters and said the use of surveillance cameras isn’t just about reacting to incidents that have already occurred.

“You have to look at maybe not what’s happened, but at situations that might occur,” Sanders said.

No action was taken, as the discussion was to update councilors on possible options if they choose to install surveillance systems in the future.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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