Security Cameras Approved for Fayette County (Ga.) Parks

Real-time video feeds can be accessed through the Web by 911 operators, sheriff’s deputies or county marshals.

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. – In a move to combat vandalism and other crimes, county officials here approved the installation of video surveillance cameras in all county parks.

County Administrator Steve Rapson told The Citizen the purpose is to enhance security and deter vandalism.

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“In an effort to provide citizens with the safest and securest environment possible, Fayette County is installing surveillance cameras at various park locations,” Rapson said. “The main focus will be to enhance the overall safety and security in the parks and deter vandalism, especially as the county makes costly upgrades to various recreation areas.”

The video will be fed into the 911 center as a real-time live feed, Rapson said, noting that the video can be stored at one center and accessed through the Web by 911 operators, sheriff’s deputies or county marshals.

“It enhances security without having to be on-site,” Rapson said, then commenting on another aspect of having cameras placed in the parks. “The idea is to deter crime without having the officer there.”

Commenting on the use of the cameras, Sheriff Barry Babb told the newspaper video is a valuable tool for law enforcement. Citing an example, Babb said thieves know that joggers sometimes park their vehicles at parks. An empty car with the jogger across the park makes a potential target of the vehicle and its contents.

Rapson said the cameras are set up to capture images when they detect motion and the pictures will only be retained if vandalism or other crimes have occurred. The cameras do not monitor anything that a law enforcement officer would not be able to monitor if he was sitting in a patrol car. Images recorded are considered sensitive information whose confidentiality, integrity, and availability will be protected, said Rapson.

Rapson said the county has taken appropriate steps to protect personal privacy and civil liberties with the use of the cameras. Accordingly, no security camera will be installed on park property where there may be a reasonable expectation of privacy, Rapson said.

“Surveillance cameras offer communities potentially useful tools for preventing and dealing with crime,” said Rapson. “The surveillance is intended to complement and not replace normal patrols of the marshal or sheriff’s office.”

The data will be stored for 30 days then over-written, Rapson said. The exception to that procedure will be in the case the video is needed to investigate an incident, he said. The future plan is to have all county parks outfitted with cameras along with key areas such as the water system.

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