Police Chief wants surveillance cameras in City Park

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By Kellie Parkin

Police Chief Virgil Sandlin asked the City of Cedar Key Commission Tuesday night for approval of a plan that would place video cameras in public areas, with the first to be placed at the city park, marina and big dock.

“The big selling feature is the protection of our children,” Sandlin said. “We have a lot of sexual predators in Levy County, two of which were recently released.”

Sandlin said that shortly after the cameras were first discussed at a previous commission meeting, there was a rash of thefts of fishing poles and other small items as well as some vandalism of area buildings.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to where we feel like we need it,” Sandlin said.

Representatives from security firm ADT were available at Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions regarding their surveillance equipment.

The initial segment of the proposal will cost the city approximately $15,250 for installation and equipment, according to Sandlin. A monthly obligation of $767.50 for ADT services of monitoring and maintaining would follow. The total cost of the first full year would be approximately $24,500. Costs will increase, however, as additions are made.

Sandlin proposed to proceed in phases. To start, there would be a camera under the gazebo, one on the west side of the Cedar Cove building facing the playground, and one on the south side of the Fire Department facing the Marina. Sandlin would also like one on the Big Dock.

In the beginning, Sandlin would be the only one with access to the video feed. The receiver monitor, and subsequent recordings, would be housed on the second floor of the fire department in a locked closet. Because the receiver will have its own IP address, live feed will also be available to authorized persons from any computer equipped with internet capabilities.

During a future phase, police cars would be outfitted with receivers for live-action monitoring capabilities.

One commission meeting attendee voiced concerns about the equipment ending up in the wrong hands. “I think of 1984 and Brave New World,” Bob treat said. “You need to think about whose hands those tools can fall into.” Treat said that he can also see the benefits of the cameras, but he is concerned with who may gain access to the monitoring system.

Commissioner Scott Dennison also voiced his concern. “I’m not a video camera fan. I think its an intrusion into people's privacy,” he said. “I don’t think there’s enough data to support the idea and I’m just not inclined to put cameras up in public spaces.”

Other commissioners seemed more amenable to the idea.

“Cameras are already everywhere you go,” Said Gene Hodges.

Mayor Heath Davis brought an end to the discussion with the promise of more talk next month. In the mean time Sandlin will collect more data and information to help the commissioners make their decision.

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