Council to consider buying more cameras

FRONT ROYAL – The town won’t just reinstall the old surveillance cameras at the Main Street gazebo as some residents recently implored.

Instead, Town Council will consider buying new equipment – high-definition cameras and a recording system to store footage. Town Council plans to discuss the matter at a work session Monday.

Town staff members determined it would cost approximately $6,500 for four, 6-megapixel, high-definition cameras and a recording system. Ruckus Communications offered to donate the wireless network equipment, valued at approximately $2,500. The town can use the police department’s asset forfeiture funds to cover the cost of the equipment. The department receives such funds when it participates with federal law enforcement agencies in their investigations and assets are seized from defendants.

Information provided in the work session agenda does not indicate if the town plans to install all four cameras in the gazebo area or spread out the devices to other parts of downtown. The high-definition cameras offer infrared viewing up to 165 feet. The parking lot lies 125 feet away. Some supporters of the cameras urged the town to upgrade the devices it had used previously.

Council voted 4-2 on July 11 on a motion to reinstall the camera at the gazebo – about six months after the town removed the device at members’ request last fall. The action spurred some residents and downtown business owners to ask council to put back the cameras, claiming the surveillance devices help law enforcement with investigations and deter criminal acts, though critics say information from police refutes the claims of their benefits. In late April, police charged a man with indecent exposure after witnesses said they saw him expose himself to children at the gazebo.

Council also approved the policy that sets guidelines for camera installation and use.

Council took action on the cameras a few weeks after holding a public hearing to collect input on the topic although residents and business owners had already spoken their minds at several meetings since the town removed the devices.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com