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Bowling Green Town Council wants community input on cameras

Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

The Bowling Green Town Council is still exploring the possibility of installing security cameras on public streets, but it hasn’t committed to the idea yet.

Council heard a presentation on the topic from Brett Wesson of Resolute Building Technologies and Walter Coady of Salient Systems at its April 3 meeting.

Wesson and Coady discussed the technology involved in a security camera system and went over various options the town would have. They also provided demonstrations.

Later in the meeting, Council members decided the issue merited further discussion and community input. They decided to hold off on any decision until after they see how the Fiscal Year 2015 budget shapes up.

Town Manager Stephen Manster said he’s planning on introducing a budget proposal in May. A public hearing on the budget would be conducted in June, and Council would vote in a special meeting later that month.

Wesson has offered the town a free trial during which one or two cameras could be installed to allow Bowling Green a chance to see firsthand how the technology functions. The trial, if accepted, would last about a month.

Town businesses have been polled about the possibility of security cameras, and Manster said the responses were “about an even split,” with some merchants in favor and others expressing privacy concerns.

Councilman Mark Bissoon said, “Evidently there were some real ugly comments on Facebook already—misled, misinformed: … ‘Oh, the town’s going to put up cameras looking into my business.’”

Bissoon clarified, “Nobody said we’re installing cameras. This is a thought. This is an idea. This is a maybe.”

He added that cameras wouldn’t be pointed into any building. They would only watch public streets.

Councilman Jason Satterwhite was concerned about how the cameras would be funded, especially considering that the town already has sewer repair projects lined up.

“My opinion on the cameras is yeah, maybe, but maybe not right now. I just don’t see the funds, in my opinion right now, at least until we get to the budget. Let’s see what the budget looks like, and then we can decide,” Satterwhite said.

Vice Mayor Glenn McDearmon said funding was one issue, and safety was another consideration.

“We all know there are issues going on in town. The (police) chief knows there are issues going on in town. He can’t be everywhere. He’s not supposed to be everywhere. The cameras won’t be everywhere, but it’s another set of eyes that help do those kinds of things,” McDearmon said.

McDearmon added, “Somebody who says, ‘You’re invading my privacy on the middle of the street’—I’m sorry, that’s not invading your privacy. But if you’re doing something wrong and we have the ability to identify that, and then we enforce those issues, we may save somebody’s life.”

Satterwhite asked, “I understand the safety aspect, but does it really stop the crime? Or does it allow you to capture who committed the crime?”

McDearmon responded, “It’s not going to prevent a crime unless you see a pattern going on. When you see patterns going on, you kind of understand where things are happening.”

Mayor David Storke said, “We need to get more input besides just the businesses. We need to get all of the citizens somehow, someway.”

Bissoon suggested that Council schedule an informal “meet-and-greet” type of event to encourage residents to become more involved in town issues. “Let’s reach back out to our town’s folk,” he said. “Let them see us. Let them know we’re here.”

McDearmon commented, “If you don’t get direction from somebody, you’ve got to make a decision. … We can’t not make a decision, so we’d love the input. This is an open and honest council. … Maybe a constituent meeting would be a really good idea.”

In other business that evening, Council unanimously approved an ordinance amendment that will allow the town to assess a water and sewer availability fee based on the number of bedrooms an assisted living facility has, rather than basing the fee on meter size. The ordinance sets the fee at $3,000 per bedroom in assisted living facilities.

Council conducted a public hearing on the ordinance, and no one stepped forward to speak.