North Augusta will soon have a new tool in its fight on crime.
The City has already installed a number of high-tech surveillance cameras at the municipal center. Following the numerous break-ins that occurred over the summer, action was taken to put in place some preventive measures. Even John Thomas, the chief at North Augusta Public Safety, had his unmarked Tahoe broken into.
“What really spurred the decision was the number of break-ins we experienced in the Greeneway parking lots, where folks would park out in the remote areas and go walk,” Rick Meyer, director of North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, said. “Also in front of the activity center and Riverview Park. It comes in cycles – we'll go six months and not have any, then we'll have a rash of them. These folks are pretty good – they can break into your car, we've timed it on video, in 10 seconds or less.”
Meyer noted that though there are some existing cameras in place, they do not have the coverage and capability of the new ones. He also said there are currently zero on the Greeneway, so this will be brand-new along that area.
“We have a few when you walk in the door here, but they're ancient and need to be replaced,” he said. “All of the locations themselves – and this also includes the soon-to-be-built Park and Ride out on Exit 5 off I-20, altogether, are going to come to a total of $180,000.”
The new cameras, in addition to having zoom capabilities, clearer video and motion detection also have one key feature – real-time streaming. Officers can watch the video from within their vehicles, as well as other security personnel. They were purchased from Technology Solutions in North Charleston.
“I can sit at my computer here, and if I want to, I can pull up the screen and watch what's happening in front of the activity center,” Meyer said. “I can watch in real-time – not just a playback video. By the same token, the Public Safety officers can do the same. If we get a call that there's a potential break-in that someone spots, Public Safety can pull it up in their car and watch what's happening as they proceed to the location.”
Meyer said that most of the time any of the acts aren't going to be caught in real time; however, the potential is now there.
“The modern cameras should be able to give us a good look at their faces, what they're driving, and what we're looking for is the tags coming and going,” Meyer said.
The cameras at the municipal center are currently being tweaked. However, the goal is for each license plate to be noted upon arrival and exit. Meyer said that in those cases it would be a big boost toward apprehending individuals.
Meyer said one the final tweaks are completed at the municipal center that Riverview Park will be next. He stated that he expects that to occur within a week as the black poles are already stationed around the area. From there, the project will continue to branch out.
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.