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DBDA To Partner With Town, Boone PD To Fund Hi-Def Cameras in Downtown District

This is an image captured by the Tsunami camera currently installed at King and Depot streets in August when the person wearing a hat stole a patio umbrella from Lost Province Brewing Co.
This is an image captured by the Tsunami camera, currently installed at the intersection of King and Depot streets in August, when the person wearing the hat stole a patio umbrella from Lost Province Brewing Co.

By Jesse Wood

On Tuesday, the Downtown Boone Development Association (DBDA) agreed to partner with the Boone Police Department to cover costs for two high-definition security cameras that will keep a 24/7 watchful eye over the downtown district. The matter is contingent upon negotiations with the vendor, Ocean 10 Security.

Boone Police Department Lt. Danny Houck sat down with the DBDA today to gauge the group’s interest on the potential funding and placement of higher quality surveillance cameras in downtown Boone. As of right now, one Tsunami camera from Ocean 10 Security is located at the intersection of King and Depot streets.

Houck said, however, that the free trial on this camera is running out and the Boone Police Department would like to retain this one and add three more in downtown Boone. Howard and Depot street is a priority location, he noted. Water and Appalachian street intersections with King Street appear to be the other two potential camera sites.

The cameras are easy enough to move with the help of an electrician’s bucket, so if another hotspot develops, Houck said that the camera could be moved away from Howard and Depot streets.

Although negotiations aren’t complete, Houck said that each camera is expected to cost $5,600 for equipment, data storage, repairs and future upgrades. No discount is offered for leasing multiple cameras. With the pace that technology changes, Houck and Boone Town Manager John Ward said it makes sense to lease as opposed to outright purchasing the equipment.

The four-head Tsunami camera offers a 360-degree view.

Houck told the DBDA that since the camera has been installed at the King and Depot intersection in May, five crimes have been reported. Because of the quality of lighting and surveillance imagery, four of those five crimes were solved.

One of those crimes occurred in mid-August at Lost Province Brewing Co. The business reported the theft of a patio umbrella. The Tsunami camera captured two males walking down Depot Street in the middle of night (about 1:20 a.m.). One of the males would go on to enter the brewery’s patio and steal an umbrella.

In another instance, Houck said that a car crashed into one of the town’s solar compactors, which then collided into the Mast General Store. Ward noted that the town would have been on the hook to replace the $4,000 solar compactor trashcan if not for footage of the accident. The driver’s insurance company ended up paying for the damage to the solar compactor and storefront.

DBDA member and local business owner Chris Grasinger said that the cameras “seem like a heck of an asset.” Town officials also noted that these cameras would likely deter folks from committing crimes in the downtown area and increase the safety of downtown visitors, especially those who might be more vulnerable for whatever reason.

“These guys can’t be everywhere all the time and I can’t think of a more cost-efficient way of providing the tools that allow them to do more,” Ward said. “…I can’t think of a more efficient way to cover downtown and provide a sense of safety.”

The DBDA agreed to split the cost of two cameras (expected to be a combined $11,200) this year with the Boone Police Department. The camera located at King and Depot intersection will remain and the additional camera will be placed on Howard and Depot streets unless another “hotspot” develops.

The town and DBDA will likely decide on the other cameras during budget retreats in the spring.