City eyes surveillance cameras

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2007

FRANKLIN—The city is considering installing security cameras as a means to protect citizens.

Deputy Chief Bruce Edwards worked up a cost analysis of having surveillance cameras installed in two locations in the city and identified potential challenges that may be faced.

A network project is in the process of being built around the schools through a recently acquired grant to add security to the school buildings. With no wireless network infrastructure in existence, it was noted that it made sense to expand on the school system’s network.

His cost analysis was $20,660 based on the assumption of having only one pan, tilt, zoom camera and based on the notion of having it added onto the network at S.P. Morton Elementary School.

Staff members to monitor the network would be needed since the department currently has none, according to his report, but the system could be used for recording activity that can be used later.

It was stressed again how important it is to encourage citizens to alert police when they see something going on in their neighborhoods.

“There’s no greater crime prevention,” said City Manager Bucky Taylor. “The key thing is that (the call) doesn’t go out on the radio or scanner. It has to be confidential so the caller can’t be identified.”

Police Chief Phil Hardison said that the network was secure. With encrypted frequencies, those conversations cannot be scanned or sent out over the radio.

“We have a citywide frequency to go to speak to who we need to,” said Hardison.

“The public probably doesn’t know that,” said Councilman Charles Wrenn.

“Is it fair to say we need a more aggressive campaign in getting citizens to assist?&uot; asked Mayor Jim Councill.

“Certainly,” said Hardison, “but we still have to have the staff to address it. When the call volume doubles, someone has to wait.”

The issue was discussed at the City Council’s recent retreat, responding to citizens’ concerns at a town meeting held near the end of October. Linda Dickerson of Ashton Avenue was only one who voiced concerns about safety from crime in the neighborhoods on the south side of the city. She pleaded for more lights, saying she was afraid to go out at night to leave for work.

Councilwoman Rosa Lawrence of Ward 3 asked about establishing red zones, which came up at a combined meeting of Wards 3, 4 and 5.

The zones would be off-limits to anyone on court-ordered probation.

City Attorney Taylor Williams said, “It has been looked into, but it is a policy adopted by the parole office.” He said a person caught in an area where they were not supposed to be would be in violation of parole or probation, not of an ordinance.

“It’s nothing council can direct,” Williams.

“We can only report it,” said Hardison.

Among other issues noted were the consideration of hiring strategies and creative recruitment strategies, pursuing crime prevention and putting safety initiatives in place.