WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Many people go to Wrightsville Beach to go fishing. Now Wrightsville Beach could be fishing for you.
Many folks in Wrightsville Beach say their community is relatively safe, but the town is looking to beef up its security.
Two weeks ago the beach town received a federal grant for automatic license plate recognition systems to help police in their search for criminals.
“It gives us an opportunity to monitor everyone that comes on the beach and off the beach and to put into place enforcement action if necessary so we don’t have those violent offenders out in our community potentially harming other people,” Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Daniel House said.
Town leaders say the system is usually used in big cities to find terrorists. The money is part of a 2008 federal ports security grant.
“It’s probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 with a 25 percent match,” Town Manager Bob Simpson said.
Simpson says the Board of Alderman will likely have a public hearing on the grant in September before adopting an agreement with the federal government.
Some Wrightsville Beach town officials we talked with today said this is the perfect spot for a system, as there is only one way on and off the island, but the public seemed to disagree.
“I feel like Wrightsville Beach is already one of the safest places in North Carolina, if not the United States,” Wrightsville Beach resident Sam Myer said, “and it’s somewhat overgoverned and overpoliced already, and this system of having license plates checked at the beach seems like a little bit too much to me.”
Another issue people have with the system is that the town will have to pay 25 percent of the grant. Even the mayor has a few doubts about whether or not the system is necessary.
“My reservations are whether or not it will truly cut down on the type of crime we have at the beach,” Mayor David Cignotti said. “I really want to hear from my citizens, and I will support whatever I think our citizens desire.”
Despite the reaction we got about the system today, Mayor Cignotti says he has a “hunch” that the majority of the citizens in Wrightsville Beach will probably support the idea.