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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.

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9 Comments on "Wrightsville Beach considers grant for license plate scanning"

Vic Venters
2015 years 10 months ago

As a full-time WB resident all I can say is no wonder we are stricken with budget deficits — federal, state and local. Magnify this sort of wasteful spending and we get what we deserve.

2015 years 10 months ago

I’m mad at the 25 percent match the feds are giving…part of the SHOVEL READY crap I’m sure! WASTE OF MONEY…Like WB needs this type of security CRAP! Way to go WB!

2015 years 10 months ago

This system will be misused as probable cause to pull citizens who have any active court cases or infractions whatsoever based upon ‘suspicion’. Mayor Cignotti needs to support the privacy rights of this over-policed community. A new chief is already doing this stuff his first few weeks in the job? Sounds like a bad selection process.

2015 years 10 months ago

Chief House has nothing do to with trying to get this system. The application for the grant was written a few years ago by Chief Carey. It takes a while for these grants to be reviewed and then accepted. For some reason this camera system seemed to be on his personal agenda. From what I have heard, Chief Carey was the only one that supported it. I agree with most of you, it’s seems way to big brother and seems wasteful.

2015 years 10 months ago

I understand WB concern for crime and safety of it’s residents but this I believe is going to cause issues. First of all I believe its an invasion to a person’s privacy. People make mistakes but to be screened by your license plate is going to cause major discrimination issues. Just because someone may have a criminal record doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a right to vacation at whatever beach they want. I can almost guarantee if this goes thru that people will start being discriminated for their past. Judge someone for the act they do today and don’t invade their privacy thru this wasteful spending.

2015 years 10 months ago

OK well it started with a smoking ban on the beach now they are trying to know who is on the island. Well I feel that this is going to bring more truble than it is worth cause every department has offices who will us that as a way to harass people who have had issues in the past. I also think this is going to make a lot of officers lazy on the force . Then there is the fact that is a invasion of privacy might as well move wrightsville beach over to Russia or some third world country cause that what it sounds like they are trying to do wrightsville beach use to be a great place to visit and live now with everything that is happening I wouldn’t live there or visit there is to much policing and they are trying to become a dictatorship over there

Das Weibstück
2015 years 10 months ago

And who’s to say the criminal will be in their own vehicle? Or in a vehicle at all? This is so stupid. JUST close WB down and let no one on it except residents, then you all can pay for your own beach re-nourishment and silly ideas like this.

Janet Gay
2015 years 10 months ago

Just another stupid stunt by Wrightsville Beach. Why don’t they just put up a gate at the bridge and keep out everyone who doesn’t live there?

I don’t go there often, now I don’t think I’ll ever go there again. I can spend my money elsewhere.

2015 years 10 months ago

“an opportunity to monitor everyone” ??? Last time I looked around I thought this was still America. To quote our national anthem: “O’er the land of the FREE and the home of the brave!”. I highly doubt that means “an opportunity to monitor everyone”. Hey, if we can’t even count on our federal politicians to produce the necessary legislation to fix our country’s national debt do you think you can trust a bunch of local cops and politicians not to abuse the power invested in this program?.
I live in Wilmington and occasionally visit Wrightsville Beach. If this program goes into effect (with a massive waste of my federal taxes to fund it as well) it just would’nt feel morally right to visit. Perhaps that’s what the residents of the island really desire. Their upcoming descision on this this issue will define them.


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