Security cameras may be in place along Memorial Boulevard this fall.
Bids for a half dozen cameras are slated to be opened in early October
Officials hope the wireless camera system will help them cut down on vandalism along the historic parkway, a problem that struck home over the summer when a statue of a Spanish-American War soldier was ripped from its base and mauled badly.
The Sony wireless cameras, already in place at downtown’s Brackett Park, may help deter vandals and could assist police in catching culprits who ignore the cameras, officials said.
“Maybe it will cut down vandalism,” city Councilor Mike Rimcoski said.
Tom Ragaini, a parks commissioner, said that they can’t hurt.
Cameras will be mounted in a half dozen spots along the boulevard, with their pictures sent electronically to a video recorder that will keep the photos on file for many hours in case authorities need to review something.
Park Director Ed Swicklas said that at the very least, the cameras should help police pinpoint the time when vandals strike.
But officials said that the pictures are often surprisingly clear, even in the dark, so they may prove effective in identifying those who create problems.
They could also be used for live webcasting, if the city ever opted to use that option, which might allow residents to keep an eye on the boulevard from their homes.
The cameras are touted as being “ideal for webcasting and remote monitoring applications used almost anywhere – from airports to train stations, factories to supermarkets, and from street corners in small towns to big cities.”
They each cost between $750 and $1,400 online, depending on the vendor. But the city also needs the appropriate networking and connections to use them.
The city’s Park Board is planning more cameras to combat vandalism at Rockwell Park as its renovation nears completion next year, with other parks likely to follow in years to come if the cameras prove helpful.
Swicklas said recently that during the past month, there hasn’t been any vandalism worth noting in any of the parks, a sharp change from the spate of trouble last spring.
Mayor Art Ward said he recently spoke with a prosecutor to detail 57 incidents of vandalism in city parks this year in a bid to convince the law enforcer to come down hard on those arrested for spray painting the pool at Rockwell Park in the spring.
Ward and other city leaders said they are convinced that one way to clamp down on vandalism that costs taxpayers thousands of dollars annually is to “make an example” of anyone caught – and to make them reimburse the city for the expense of repairing the damage.
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