Marion Council talks about city-wide security cameras

The Marion City Council had a discussion about city-wide security cameras, a signage request by Marion High School FFA, and other topics in their March 25 meeting.

Police Chief Clinton Jeffrey talked about the possibility of installing city-wide security cameras placed strategically over town.

Jeffrey said the cameras could help with investigations and other illegal activities when the police wouldn’t have anything else to go on. One example, he said, could be a burglary at night, and nobody is out to witness it and no security camera on-site.

For discussion purposes, Jeffrey said he is proposing 10 cameras, which could be raised or lowered.

“We could go with less or more now, and up to what council thinks,” he said. In giving councilors an idea of where the cameras could be placed, Jeffrey provided pictures the police department thinks the cameras could be best utilized.

“The software is what we are paying for in the cost of it,” he said. “This software is intelligent, it can keep track of a description of a person over multiple cameras and give a timeline.

This would be an improvement having 10 cameras for 12 hours each to review for information. The camera could also be updatable to license plate recognition and monitoring those, he explained.

“And, if we enter a license plate search, it will tell us where the vehicle went every time it’s caught on a camera,” he said.

Two areas, Jeffrey said, would be vital would be in placing cameras where motorists are coming into town and going out of town.

“It would be a huge tool for us in locating suspects or missing persons, which is something we never have a lot to go on,” he said. “The software allows us to search the cameras for a person by description, what a person has on (example blue pants, red shirt), and it will scour how many parameters are set to locate people matching that description.”

For police, it would narrow the timeline down from a significant amount to minutes, but the camera system is not designed or intended to replace the police department, he said. Its intent is to give police another tool when a lot of the crimes that occur in the “wee hours of the morning” or late at night when there are no witnesses or are hard to solve.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt asked Jeffrey where the funding for these cameras will come from?

“We haven’t arranged that yet,” Jeffrey said. “We were looking at dividing it up between entities that would utilize the cameras—police being the majority, and the department of recreation and the city shop having one.”

Councilor Chris Costello asked if the camera would move, and Jeffrey said they could, but the cost would be significant.

Holter said: “Our question to the council is that this would be the first deployment of surveillance owned and operated by the city. Is that acceptable under your leadership in order to enhance safety and security of our citizens and security of our assets within the city?”

Heitschmidt said it looks as if this will be back on a future agenda after more information is known.

By a unanimous vote, the council approved the police and administration to develop policies and what is necessary for the project.

In other business, the council:

n approved the Marion High School FFA to place signage for directions to the community garden.

n renewed its city policy April 1 with EMC insurance at a renewal premium of $86,619. Casey Case with EMC said the bottom line was the new premium was down $3,157. Councilor Jerry Kline thanked Case for his professionalism and “looking out for the city’s interests.”

n approved the planning commission’s recommendation at 626 E. Main St., which was zoned half commercial and half residential to now zoned all residential.

n appointed Roger Schroeder to the city of Marion Board of Zoning Appeals.

Written By
More from Patty Decker
Two former teacher/coaches featured at HHS reunion
Capping activities at this year?s 10th annual Hillsboro All-School Reunion was a...
Read More