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City adds cameras to budget

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Security cameras. Getty Images

Security cameras. Getty Images

Pembroke council has decided to look into installing additional security cameras in the city.

 

The finance and administration committee agreed to include the cost of the cameras as a line item in their 2018 municipal budget, which is to be discussed in January. The estimated cost for the extra cameras would run between $4,000 and $5,000, based on what it cost to obtain and install cameras back in 2014.

Terry Lapierre, city CAO, said the Pembroke Police Services Board made the request back in September, but council wanted to obtain more specific information from the Ontario Provincial Police as to the usefulness of the cameras in the conduct of their police work.

He said council did receive that information within a letter sent to the police board.

In it, Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Detachment Commander Karl Duewel said the existing cameras stationed around town have proved very useful.

“The cameras within the city of Pembroke have been positioned in specific locations for a number of reasons,” Duewel wrote. He explained these areas are being targeted due to having higher rates of theft and/or shoplifting, as well as reports from businesses and the OPP of higher drug activity. The goal is to provide another level of security for shoppers and pedestrians.

Duewel stated evidence gathered by the use of the cameras helped police in their investigation of the fatal accident near the Pembroke Memorial Centre, which assisted in the prosecution of the case. Camera footage also helped identify a person of interest at Rowan's Pharmacy; solved a hit and run motor vehicle collision; solved a November 2015 robbery of a Mac's Milk, with a person of interest picked up by camera footage for a second robbery.

Duewel wrote cameras also cleared people of offences they didn't commit, including reports of an assault and a probation breech, both of which were shown to be false.

“The OPP feel strongly that the video cameras set up in the city of Pembroke are making a difference,” he stated in the letter. “All of the real and tangible benefits of these cameras cannot be fully captured or documented but we feel the project has been a success. The cameras have proven to be invaluable as an investigative tool to solve crime, (and) just as important, these cameras have assisted in proving allegations false.”

Coun. John McCann, who has objected to the camera request from the beginning, remained unimpressed. He and Pat Lafreniere continued to strongly oppose the idea, neither convinced extra security cameras would do enough to prevent crime to justify the cost. Both voted against obtaining the cameras.

McCann said the statistics the OPP presented detailed incidents which happened in private businesses, such as shoplifting. He said in that case, it should be private businesses who should pay for the cameras protecting their property, and not city ratepayers.

“I would like to see the crimes justify the price,” he said, and for him, the examples given in the letter do not do that at all.

“As it stands, $5,000 is too much,” McCann said.

Mayor Michael LeMay said he felt the city should proceed with this request, including it as part of the 2018 budget. He feels the existence of cameras in the downtown area has been an important crime prevention tool, especially when it comes to deterring vandalism and other crimes.

“I worry about the damage which could be occurring if the cameras aren't there,” he said.

SUhler@postmedia.com 



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