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Security cameras spark debate
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To buy or not to buy? That was the question for the Walthourville City Council last week when members debated with residents whether to put security cameras in city hall.
The council began looking into buying cameras for the building earlier this year as part of an effort to provide better protection for the all-female staff that works inside city hall handling money.
Councilmembers said they feared without tighter security the employees would continue to be at risk for robbery or bodily harm.
"There's no (security) around the office and with the doors opening (back and forth) anybody can just walk on in," Councilwoman Patricia Green said.
To help keep track of the people coming and going, councilmembers unanimously approved to purchase an ADT security camera package for $2,075, but not before residents weighed in.
"Mayor and council, I understand about being safe and secure because we are in a fairly high crime rate," resident Gwendolyn Dykes said. "But, if you will, take note of the fact that the convenience stores and other places as such are burglarized. Those cameras really and truly don't offer a lot of protection."
Dykes suggested rather than spending city funds on the security system, which includes a 15-inch color monitor and two high-resolution cameras, workers should develop office regulations for securing cash and staffing.
"My recommendation would be to keep whatever little bit of cash they have and take it under lock and key," she said. "And if you're here by yourself, just go ahead and lock the door. If somebody comes up to the door you can go ahead and get it or if you're afraid, our law can get here on the spot."
Green responded that locking the entrance would not be feasible because of the traffic through city hall at any given time.
The councilwoman added locking the door is not going to stop a criminal intent on burglarizing the front office.
"And the security cameras might not stop (a criminal) either," Green conceded, "but at least we could catch the individual because we'd see them on camera."
"But if they're robbing places, they might be wearing masks," Dykes retorted. "Or what if the camera doesn't catch them? They've had several incidents in Savannah where there were security cameras involved and they're still looking for the folks."
Dykes described relying on the cameras as "a crapshoot." Councilwoman Luciria Lovette agreed the security measure "may not detour all of the crime," but could serve as deterrent.
"We're trying to be proactive rather than reactive," she said. "We're not saying it's going to protect those ladies completely, but we're looking at it is a deterrent."
When asked by resident Carrie Anderson what kind of coverage the cameras would provide, Mayor Pro Tem Larry Baker said the cameras would monitor "the front entrance of the building, the sides of the building and the inside of the building."
An installation date for the camera system has yet to be determined.
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