Surveillance cameras planned to improve security in downtown St. Thomas
Published Friday, May 3, 2019 5:29PM EDT
Surveillance cameras could soon be keeping tabs on what's happening on Talbot Street in St. Thomas.
The city’s Downtown Development Board is spearheading an effort to purchase and install cameras, which could be in place by this time next year.
Earl Taylor, the board chair, says the idea is in response to public feedback.
"I have had people commenting about maybe they didn't feel safe downtown, whether they're shoppers or visitors. So I thought, 'How can we change that?'"
Taylor says he first thought of using cameras late last year and presented the idea to the city's Crime Prevention Committee.
St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge says a survey conducted by the department last year reinforces concerns of business owners.
He says police calls to Talbot are five to 10 times higher than any other street in the city.
"Some of the feedback from the public was they don't like going downtown. They're afraid to go downtown. I think we need to bring the public downtown and the way to do that is to enhance security."
The cameras would be placed at eight intersections in the downtown, at a total cost of about $100,000.
The cameras would be linked to a single server at the police station and Herridge says they would only be viewed for investigations.
"After the fact, we can go downtown, take a look at that location, see where the cameras are, come back pull off the images and see if we can actually solve that issue."
Taylor says most feedback has been positive, but concerns have been raised about privacy. Still, he says surveillance cameras are commonplace now, in businesses and other public areas.
He says the committee has consulted with cities like London, which has had cameras for over 15 years.
"We're going to be talking to the privacy commission, we have to follow their rules. And do a survey, or a study, to see where our cameras can and cannot point."
The camera network will use fibre optic cable being installed by Entegrus Powerlines Ltd this summer.
The development board will take its proposal to city hall on Monday and Taylor says fundraising to pay for the cameras has already begun.