If you’re walking down Lincolnton’s Main Street in the near future, be sure to smile, because you might be on camera.
The City Council unanimously approved a 10-year contract with the Lincolnton Police Department for the installation of security cameras on Main Street from Cedar Street to the courthouse during its May meeting. While that area of the city is a low-crime area, with only rare instances of vandalism and occasional vehicle accidents, officials with both the city and the police department said the cameras are necessary as a deterrent to crime and a proactive measure to keep the city safe, particularly during large-scale events like Hog Happenin’ and the Apple Festival.
“They’ll allow us to take the first steps in solving a crime,” Lincolnton Mayor John Gilleland said. “Eventually we’ll be glad we have them.”
The cameras are not yet up and running — Lincolnton Police Chief Rodney Jordan said the department is waiting on contracts to be signed before they can be installed. The cameras will be linked to a recorder and a monitor at the police department.
“The monitors will be fixed in a way so that the desk clerks or officers in the building can see real time what is going on as long as they are at the monitors at that time,” Jordan said. “We can go back and pull recordings back to about 60 days. The cameras will also provide us with a bird’s eye view of crowds during large special events so that if we have an emergency situation, we can respond quickly and review to see how we can improve our response.”
Jordan said the funds for the cameras were part of his 2012-2013 Capital Line Item request to the city, with total cost estimated at between $11,000 and $12,000. He said the cost of the monthly power, estimated at the City Council meeting as comparable to running a 100-watt light bulb, would be paid by the businesses that the cameras will be affixed to. The planned sites for the cameras include the Citizens Center, the Anderson Building and Fifth Third Bank.
While there are no set plans to expand the surveillance program, Jordan said additional cameras along the Marcia H. Cloninger Rail-Trail, which has seen its share of vandalism, have been proposed.
“We are currently looking at the feasibility of adding some to the rail trail in the future and we will just have to see from there what type of success we have with them and where we want to go,” he said. “Before expanding beyond that, we would monitor the usage and see what the benefit is compared to the cost of expansion. There may also be some partnerships we can create in the future to help cover initial installation expenses if we decide to build on the program.”
When asked about privacy concerns, Jordan said “everything recorded will be occurring in public view anyway.”
“the cameras are there for security purposes only and will only be utilized to deter crime and review reported incidents of criminal activity, traffic accidents, etc.,” he said. “The cameras can only view what can be seen by the average person who would be in the area anyway.”