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Durham Debuts New Video Monitoring System

Posted October 19, 2007

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— Durham police have a new way to keep an eye on crime in the Bull City.

Thirteen wireless surveillance cameras, enclosed in bulletproof casings, have been placed 25 feet above the ground in a two-mile radius in northeast Central Durham – the first location for such cameras in the state.

Police will try them for six months to determine whether they help crime prevention and investigation. After the trial, police will decide whether to expand the $125,000 program, which is funded by the police department's Assets Forfeitures Fund.

"What these cameras hopefully will do, will be able to complement police presence where police cannot be," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.

The pilot program is modeled on one in Chicago, where police have seen as much as a 60 percent decrease in drug activity.

Police admit the cameras might displace crime to other locations, but note that the cameras can easily be moved from corner to corner if patterns change.

Officers will carry portable monitors that allow them to zoom, pan and tilt to follow any activity. Cruisers' mobile computers will be linked to the cameras.

There will also be stationary monitors at the District 1 substation, police headquarters and the city's 911 center.

Critics in cities where similar cameras are already in place have raised concerns about the cameras violating a person's privacy.

Deputy Chief Ron Hodge insists the cameras, which do not include audio, do not.

"To monitor what's going in a public place – you have the right to do that, and I have a right to do that," he said.

Business owners, such as Samuel Jenkins, who owns a barbershop in the area that is being monitored, said he doesn't mind the cameras.

"It has made so many people feel safe," he said, adding that other businesses have asked why the cameras are not on more streets.

"Nobody wants crime," Jenkins said.

Police say that's the point.

34 Comments

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  • retired and luv it Oct 21, 2007

    Hey I'll bet Cops the TV show put the cameras in for free and are going to do live broadcast from Durham??

  • dougalu Oct 19, 2007

    Where is the ACLU in this? First thing they'de say is Durham's camera's will be primarily on Black areas, which = racism...

  • djofraleigh Oct 19, 2007

    "..violating a person's privacy.." What visual privacy do you have on a public street? I've been noticing for sixty years people keep looking at me when I walk around town. Can't someone make them stop looking at me?

  • parr4246 Oct 19, 2007

    mfalesana.........."I actually just moved out of Durham and back to Raleigh because of how violent it was there. I fell asleep to gunshots every single night and they weren't down the street from me they were in front of where I was living and on the sides you name is. People would just drive around shooting. Right before I moved I saw the camera's.. There are about 4 or 5 going from the RR tracks up driver street to angier ave. And then 3 of them on Angier near the 2 mini markets there."

    You were smart to leave, you were in East Durham (one of the worst areas)..........what did you expect when you live on the worst side of town..........????

  • Red Oct 19, 2007

    They don't call it The People's Republic of Durham for nothin'.

  • clickclackity2 Oct 19, 2007

    HMMM...well there's actually a police substation AT NorthGate Mall! And...???

  • romex Oct 19, 2007

    they will go were cameras cant see them to kill each other.

  • ncmickey Oct 19, 2007

    I live in Durham and I have never heard gunshots. I am not saying they dont happen....but its not like every area in Durham is bad. Alot of nice areas. East Durham is not so good.

  • lynddsy Oct 19, 2007

    i say if the work great. only time will tell. crime is so high something has to be done.

  • Nancy Oct 19, 2007

    Cameras are not a violation of anyone's civil rights, for those so concerned, just stay inside, they can't install them in your home.

    Public space, absolutely, your home, no.

    Although there is a town in CA where the mayor just passed a law not allowing smoking in apartments you rent in that town.

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