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ONLY ON 3: Specially trained officers run downtown cameras only on special occassions

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Specially trained officers run downtown cameras only on special occassions
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- From September 2009 to May 2010, the Wilmington Police Department responded to about 5,000 calls just in the central business district and a number of those dealt with property damage, including tire slashing, like what happened Friday night when someone slashed the tires on 18 cars downtown.

Today we took a look at video from the WPD's surveillance cameras from that night. From the peak hours of 10 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday, the camera that sits on the corner of Dock and 2nd Streets did not pan, zoom or move. Police that's routine. On weekends, the nine cameras are monitored by one officer. It's only when Downtown Wilmington has special events, such as Halloween or the Azalea Ffestival, when trained officers actively use the cameras.

"Someone that's specifically trained to operate the systems basically makes for a better view," Lt. Ed Pigford said. "They're looking for specific events. If they see something that's suspicious in nature, they may view and they may zoom in."

Pigford says the cameras are effective despite the fact they did not catch a glimpse of the offender or offenders who slashed the tires this weekend.

"It is a valuable tool," he said. "And with the proper preventative tools added to it, it can be more valuable."

Tools, Pigford said, like better lighting and signs indicating the presence of cameras.

"That sign is there to decrease the likelihood of someone committing a crime in that location," he said.

Wilmington Downtown, Inc., executive director John Hinnant agrees.

"Better lighting goes a long way when you're trying to prevent and deter crime and bad behavior," Hinnant said.

According to City of Wilmington spokesperson Malissa Talbert, the city does not intend to add more lighting to the downtown area due to budget restrictions.

We tried to speak with Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous yesterday and today about his budget and resources, especially the cameras in the wake of the vandalism over the weekend. Police department spokeswoman Lucy Crockett told us both times Evangelous was too busy to talk with us. Later she e-mailed us to say, "If we need to make a compelling case for the chief to rearrange his schedule, please let me know."

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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No special training

I run those red light cameras all the time and I don't need special training. Can I get a job with you?

Ok so now that the weak

Ok so now that the weak point has been identified I hope that the chief finds the resources to have the cams manned 24/7. That's the future- Its going to happen sooner or later. If not- its a waste of technology.
CC

Well according to your list

Well according to your list of news stories tonight on your website, it appears the officers are not watching cameras because they are out there fighting thugs in stolen cars, who are carrying guns lookin for places to rob. But that story is NOT your headline nor a part of your poll. Tire slashin is. Keep your chin up WPD. We love ya.

Caught sleeping on watch

another ineffective police expenditure that other departments have made a valuable asset. Reducing man hours and increasing coverage areas.Keep blaming the citizens for this incompetence in police coverage and downtown's problems. No one is in the garages when people are assaulted, no police to stop vandals and only 5000 calls, less than 20 a day, stop writing tickets and protect and serve the public.

don't need cams

More wasted money on unmanned toys.
Put a few more bodies on the street walking and showing a presence would cutout a lot of crime.
Don't they have a "downtown neighborhood watch"?
The police can't do it all without help from the community.
Next thing ya know the cameras will be vandalized.
If all the business owners get together and volunteer to do community patrolling in the areas they have problems with I'm sure it will get better.
Everyone has cell phones now and they can call 911 if they see a problem.

I really don't think the WPD

I really don't think the WPD should employ someone for the sole purpose of monitoring a few cameras. If the cameras were portable and were moved around, they might catch somebody. Everyone knows where they are and will only do their dirty deeds at night.

I really don't think.

Guess your car did'nt have any flat's that night. Shut Up!The Camras are paid for why not use them.

No, hadenoughofit, I have

No, hadenoughofit, I have more sense than to leave my car unattended in a craphole like downtown Wilmington.

Article is bad idea

I like how you include ways that these cameras are useful and that including signs and all could decrease crime in the downtown area, but when you specifically write that they don't pan and that they are unmanned except on "special occasions". It kind of defeats the point don't you think?!

No, the bad idea was obviously buying these cameras

Why would we spend this kind of money if we're not going to man them and utilize them to their full potential? Just to say that we have them?

City Resources

Why not ask the City Counsil/City Manager why? They are the ones that are at the root of the budget issues. You can't blame the WPD over something that they don't control!

Huh?

Are you saying that the cameras were forced on the WPD? Didn't any of the cost for them come out of their budget?