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July 8, 2013

Keeping an extra eye on crooks

City Council approves budget for department to purchase surveillance system

ATHENS — The Athens City Council on Monday approved a budget submitted by the Athens Police Department to purchase video surveillance equipment with funds forfeited due to criminal activity.

Chief Buddy Hill said APD is purchasing the Videofied wireless video security system to address recurring property crimes at remote or secluded locations in the city.  The system uses multiple small motion-activated cameras and a control unit. Once the camera is placed at a location, motion will trigger the device.

“It’s a fairly new device. It comes with four cameras that have to be within a certain distance of the control unit,” Hill said. “We’ll position the cameras to give the best chance of seeing someone who might be on the property.”

If APD gets repeated reports of burglaries, vandalism or graffiti at a location, the system will be put to use.

According to Hill, the system records and transmits a video clip to a central monitoring station where the video is viewed. If the surveillance service detects any possible criminal or suspicious activity, that information is  reported to the police department.

Hill said the initial $3,542 cost of the package includes one year of monitoring of the system. After the initial purchase, the police department owns the hardware and the only recurring cost will be the fee for the monitoring and maintenance.

Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure states that the police department forfeiture account can be used only for law enforcement purposes. A budget must be submitted to the governing body of the municipality that clearly lists and defines the expenditures.

In other action, the council approved the re-appointment of John Trent to a new term on the Civil Service Commission. Trent has informed the council that he is willing to serve a new 3-year term.

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