Summerville approves new surveillance system for downtown

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 9:40 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 11:22 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Smile, you’re on camera. The Summerville Town Council has approved a plan to install 12 security cameras in the downtown area to help prevent crime before it happens.

The cameras will cover the downtown area around Hutchinson Square as well as the business districts. The cameras are simply the latest tool the Summerville Police Department have requested in recent months to promote safety.

“We have a newly developed hospitality team (Team 6) our agency just stood up to focus on the Town’s business districts, parks and walking trails,” said Lieutenant Chris Hirsch with SPD. “The five-member team conducts property checks, meets with merchants to help create security plans, and advises them of trending crimes for awareness.”

The town currently already utilizes a limited number of cameras around Town Hall and the parking garage outside. Hirsch says all of the cameras will send a live feeds directly to the police dispatch center where they will be recorded and used to help solve crimes.

Police Chief Douglas Wright says they’ve seen an increase in crime from last year, but suggests it’s an expected bump since last year’s covid restrictions made gatherings and tourism less common.

“You are having more traffic collisions. You’re having more people out and about. Obliviously, your crime is going to go back up,” Wright said. “In the business district, you’re seeing more shop lifting, vandalism, drunkenness. Things like that. Having our officers in the area is obviously a visible deterrent, as well as having the cameras to capture some of that surveillance footage to help us bring justice to some of those situations.”

Wright says the extra officers and surveillance cameras are much more geared toward preparing for Summerville’s future, as more and more people move to the area, than addressing a current crime wave.

“Not just for crime, but they can help monitor traffic flow live from our dispatch center. We are planning for the future and cutting-edge technology is a part of that,” Wright said. “This is a first step in what I hope will be a future endeavor for our agency to have cameras a long our walking trails and some of our parks, so people know they have a watchful eye to protect them.”

Wright dismisses any nefarious notions about the surveillance system.

“Everywhere you go right now you are being captured on video whether it’s surveillance footage, DOT cameras or other people’s cameras. You’re on camera everywhere and most of the time you don’t know it at all. We are making it known that we are going to be videoing in areas, public areas, to help keep people safe.”

On Monday, the council unanimously approved the purchase order with Johnson Controls for the installation of the cameras for $54,524.71. Wright says they should be up and running before the end of the year.

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