Cameras keep an eye on Stratford lawbreakers
Stratford Press, 14 Jan 2010
For nine years the actions of possible lawbreakers in the Stratford central business district have been under observation at the police station with what Senior Sergeant Shaun Keenan calls their ‘desk-based community patrol.’
“The cameras really assist us in detecting offences, especially people breaking the liquor ban in town,” he said.
As well as being able to pan around to cover a wide area and even follow people, they can zoom in to easily read a number plate on a vehicle or see faces clearly.
The footage is constantly saved and can be used as court evidence. The footage is digitally stored for a month.
The five cameras are placed at each roundabout, the clock tower, Prospero Place and the skateboard park on Orlando St.
They are state of the art cameras, recently upgraded to a digital system. They work under low light conditions and the resolution on the six screens is remarkably clear.
The system was put in place about nine years ago by the Stratford District Council, which has funded the purchase and maintenance of the equipment.
While the cameras run and record automatically 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they are fully manned on Friday and Saturday nights, from 10pm to about 3am.
Volunteers in the newly formed Stratford Community Patrol man the cameras on those nights as well as patrolling the town.
The town patrols began last month and the group has eight trained volunteers with numbers still growing.
They have a marked vehicle and are equipped with police radios.
They patrol high-risk areas in the town as well as covering special events.
Should they spot suspicious activity they call up police to intervene.
“They are a good tool and extra eyes and ears for us. We support them with resources and information,” said Sergeant Keenan.
“They are not police volunteers but are affiliated to a national body with codes of practice.”
The patrols are a joint initiative between Stratford Police, Neighbourhood Support, Central Taranaki Safer Trust and Stratford District Council.
Anyone interested in joining the group can contact Liz Sunman of 765 8863.