Downtown Warsaw may get more video cameras. The town council is waiting for a cost proposal, and if the figures are favorable they’re likely to vote on authorizing installation.
There are already about 30 video cameras monitoring property, including the Town Office, Town Park and Warsaw’s new police station. But in late September, someone threw paint on a park bench, the sidewalk and the fountain on Main St. The incident is still under investigation and has spurred talks of adding more coverage.
One proposed site is the corner of Main St. and Belle Ville Lane. Video cameras at the police station currently capture a portion of Main, and if additional cameras were placed at the proposed intersection aiming in both directions, the town could have a view of most of the street.
At the November meeting, the town council discussed the pros and cons of more video cameras, including concerns about invasion of privacy.
Mayor Randall Phelps made clear that adding more video cameras was not an attempt to spy on buildings or invade visitors’ privacy.
Ogle Forrest, Sr. said that given the number of businesses that have moved in, those that have invested in renovations and the money the town has spent, the additional cameras are something Warsaw needs. He dismissed pushback about privacy as outdated.
“There was an argument at one point in time that it’s an invasion of privacy but [cameras are] everywhere…Cameras are not a bad thing. Cameras have solved many crimes and situations because you have the video of it. I don’t propose invading any privacy,” Forrest stressed, “but if you’re watching down the streets, if you’re watching the front facades of buildings at night, you’re not invading privacy. You’re protecting property. That’s why I think we should do it,” he said.
Faron Hambin expressed support noting that in addition to protecting the people’s businesses, the town would be offering protection for the citizens. He called attention to events such as WarsawFest and the parade. If something was to happen–and things have happened in the past–you can go back and I think we’ll be able to get to the bottom of it a lot quicker, he said.
Phelps said he spoke with three business owners who are in favor of adding cameras, and Warsaw police chief Joan Kent called the move an excellent idea.
Currently, Kent and town manager Joseph Quesenberry have access to all footage from the existing video cameras. Each unit is kept in a locked room and password protected. Video files from any new cameras will be handled the same way.