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New cameras would heighten island security

By Staff | Nov 12, 2014

Public safety personnel will be watching a little more closely.

The city will install 30 cameras in coming months, most being added to the Sanibel Recreation Center, city hall and some beach locations. Sanibel has 87 cameras in the island, some dated and shopworn by exposure to salt and sun, town officials said. The city left open the possibility of bringing the total camera count to 150, should the need arise in coming years.

A camera count of 117 will help keep Sanibel safer for islanders and visitors, city officials at a Nov. 4 meeting to fund more than $500,000 for the video upgrades noted. The costs had been budgeted into 2014-15 expenditures, with increased beach parking fees and other revenue to pay for the equipment.

Island police favor more cameras to deter crime and potential threats to city workers at their desks and in parking areas. The city’s boat ramp, Lighthouse Beach and some traffic crossings will get more cameras. Bowman’s Beach will get 10 cameras, one to monitor conditions. It had no cameras in the past.

Precaution is the chief consideration in the police department’s request for upgrades. The city will also fund new officer positions and beach parking aides to further tighten security.

Even with a unanimous vote to approve the upgrades, some were unsettled by the need.

Conceding things are more dangerous and cameras monitor the world’s subway stations, traffic crossings and workplaces, Councilman Mick Denham softly voted in favor of adding cameras in Sanibel.

“I’m not too sure, actually, how I feel about it,” Denham said. “In society today, there are cameras everywhere.”

Councilman Marty Harrity was less leery in his comments preceding the camera funding vote. Success at his Doc Ford restaurants comes with a price tag, he said.

“Every time (you) turn around,” he said, “there’s a certified letter. Looking at the cost of a potential lawsuitsome of the settlements are ludicrous. We’re in the process of putting cameras everywhere. I would be in favor of doing this.”