Marion ALE students get creative

WM Public Works gets pole cam demo

Surveillance system could be key to curbing illegal dumping, other crimes

Talked about for years in city committee meetings, the West Memphis Public Works Committee took a first look at pole mounted surveillance cameras.

Going into the presentation City Council members were looking for a way to catch illegal tire dumpers.

The idea of pole cameras had repeatedly been dismissed out of hand for a number of reasons. Initial expense, ongoing expenses to move and maintain cameras, the burden on the police department to monitor and store video, low quality resolution and low light quality, stacked the deck against even looking at a sales demonstration.

The committee moved the meeting from City Hall to the Eugene Woods Civic Center to use the newly installed video conference call equipment and saw the pole camera demonstrated.

The Q-Star Flashcam 880sx was touted as a crime deterrent system to stop graffiti, illegal dumping, trespassing and vandalism. The solar charged battery operation makes the camera self contained and portable with no hard wiring. Photos from the camera can be downloaded by a wi-fi signal. City Councilors saw high resolution images clearly showing license plates and tattoo details from more than 100 feet away. The camera can operate in total darkness and has an option for a bright light and audible warning message. Q-Star representative Andrew Clark made the pitch.

“This covers a lot of applications for remote surveillance like illegal dumping,” said Clark. “Because of our high resolution camera combined with our advanced infra red triggering we can catch people up to three hundred feet in complete darkness.”

A starter package costs just over $7,650 dollars and comes with training and a one year warranty.

Committee members were impressed with what they saw and talked about using the cameras to catch tire dumpers. City Engineer Phillip Sorrell thought about putting one into use.

“I would think trying one of these at the city shop would be good for starters,” said Sorrell. “We could really use something like this to see how well it works.”

“When we get the information sent to us we need to share this with the housing authority because we have had some cameras shot out over there,” said Councilman Willis Mondy.

Mondy has also made surveillance cameras a steady topic in the Police Committee meetings for use in neighborhood parks but this was a first look for elected officials.

The Public Works Committee put off any purchase or lease asking the company for an information packet. City budgets are being formulated for 2017 right now. If any department wanted a camera now would be the time to work with Mayor Bill Johnson to put a starter set into the budget. But, it seemed all too sudden to the City Councilors to move forward. After the salesman went off line the group wondered about pursuing funding through a grant at the police department.

By John Rech