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Pineville installing police surveillance cameras in town park

By Steve Lyttle and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
Pinevillecams0715
Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
One of five remote operated cameras mounted on a light pole at Lake Park in Pineville. Town police said Monday they have installed six surveillance cameras near the Belle Johnston Community Center and are asking Pineville businesses to buy cameras that can be monitored by police.

Pineville police said Monday that they have installed six surveillance cameras at a town park and are asking town businesses to buy cameras that can be monitored by police.

The six cameras were installed near the Belle Johnston Community Center, with five cameras in Lake Park and the sixth in the child care center. The cameras operate wirelessly and are monitored at the Pineville Police Department.

The town is working with Charlotte-based WildFire Camera Networks for installation and use of the equipment. Town officials have not released a cost for the program.

WildFire’s president, former Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, and Pineville police Chief Robert Merchant have written a letter to residents and business officials explaining use of the cameras.

“This is not a covert camera system in any way,” Merchant and Pendergraph wrote in the letter. They said the cameras will help protect residents from criminal acts.

Merchant is also asking Pineville businesses to buy cameras, install them and join the wireless network.

“While we do not monitor video on your property in real time, we will have immediate access to play back your recorded video in case of an incident,” Merchant and Pendergraph wrote.

The fledgling Pineville system is similar to the network of more than 650 cameras Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have in Charlotte. It was widened in the months before the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Later that year, CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe announced that the department wanted to connect its network to private businesses’ cameras. The beefed-up network would allow officers to monitor malls, gas stations and banks across the county in a plan similar to what the Pineville chief has proposed.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have told the Observer that the public-private initiative is still in the planning stages.

The department has tried to allay fears that the new technology would result in government intrusion, saying the cameras wouldn’t be used to peer into private property. Privacy advocates have said city leaders and residents should have more input in how police use cameras.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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