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Spy cameras coming to BF

HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / Battleboro Reformer | December 30 2005

BELLOWS FALLS -- The police department will move ahead with its plan to install 16 security cameras around the village.
Earlier this year, the department won a $98,000 federal Justice Department grant to purchase and install the cameras.

In August, Bellows Falls Police Chief Keith Clark and a security consultant toured the village to determine where the cameras would be positioned.

At a trustees meeting on Tuesday, Clark presented the board with his proposed site plan for the wireless video system. The board approved Clark's plan and authorized him to begin sending out requests to security camera companies.

Clark said he hoped to have the system up and running by this summer. According to the report Clark released at the meeting, cameras would be set up in the following locations:

-- Police/fire station

-- Red Light Hill

-- Pumping station

-- Pool and recreation area

-- Water treatment tacility

-- Wastewater treatment facility

-- Parking Lot Buckley/Hardy

-- Train station

-- Hetty Green

-- Parking Lot stairs

-- Sovernet Building

-- Town Hall

-- Canal House

-- Hospital

Some of the sites would have more than one camera.

"Late at night, we would know what's going on," Clark told the board. "These would cover the square and cover it well."

The system would use wireless technology and transmit images back to dispatchers at the police station. The video, the report read, would be monitored 24 hours a day.

The cameras will not record audio and the system will hold the images for seven days. After seven days, according to Clark's report, the system will record over the earlier images. The videos will be protected by a password system.

Due to the topography of the village, three sites will record the data: the police station, town hall and the Great Falls Medical Center.

Cameras are connected to one of the three recording sites via a wireless link. The recording station is also connected through a wireless link.

Some of the stations will need to be positioned on private property. Clark said he had not yet approached the property owners about the idea and would be talking to the building owners in the coming days.

Clark said the technology is changing rapidly. He said in the future it might be possible for officers to access the video system from their cars.

All of the board members at the meeting Tuesday supported the plan.

"This is wonderful," said Trustee Luise Light. "We should send this out to bid and get this going."

Clark said he had already heard from two Vermont companies, as well as from companies in Keene and Nashua, N.H., and from companies in Buffalo, N.Y., and Los Angeles.

He said he kept the expectations for privacy in mind while deciding on the locations.

A camera was recommended at the intersection of School and Atkinson streets, but Clark said that area was too residential and he decided against putting a camera there.

He said the images would be clear and he said they would be able to identify vandals and criminals and be used as evidence.

According to the report, the video system could be expanded to include additional locations and to "report or monitor remote sensors connected to cameras for motion, heat/smoke/fire, or access."

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