Cost to city for security camera project grows to $700,000
The city of Greenville's project to install security cameras around downtown has grown to 101 cameras at a cost of $700,000, city officials say.

Most of the money will come from taxes levied on downtown businesses and parking fees, said Jim Campbell, a city spokesman. Three of 12 cameras along Main Street and most of the 61 cameras in city-owned parking garages have been installed so far.

Cameras will be installed in the central business district, from the West End to the Bi-Lo Center, and at the city's Hudson Avenue fleet storage site.

The cameras will help curtail graffiti, car break-ins and purse snatchings, police commanders say.

While the cameras record activity 24 hours a day, the tapes are inspected only if police suspect a crime has been committed, Police Chief Willie Johnson has said.

In the parking garages, that has meant finding people who were breaking the exit arms.

"They didn't want to pay," said Lt. Mike Gambrell, the Greenville Police Department spokesman.

ù "One held (the arm) up and five cars went through. Another guy (caught on camera) was slapping high five while cars were going through," Gambrell said.

The men were charged with misdemeanors, police said. John Brooks, the city's parking administrator, said the men paid $100 to replace the broken arms.

ADT, the firm that won the city contract, expects to have all the cameras installed by Oct. 10, when The Greenville News Fall for Greenville festival begins downtown.

Brooks said both of the city's new garages — Spring Street and Poinsett Corners — will be equipped with cameras.

"We have not had a lot of comments one way or another, to be quite honest with you," Brooks said. "For us, it's way for us to determine if people are doing the right thing. We've had a problem with people breaking the gates for no reason."

Sean P. O'Rourke, a Furman University professor of communications, said he believes the cameras violate people's First Amendment rights

But Katherine Muller, who just returned from more than a year in England, said she isn't troubled by such concerns. Such cameras are all over Europe, she said, and they help police solve crimes and assist in solving abductions and murders.

"If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about," she said.

Muller, who lives in a condo in downtown Greenville, said a crime camera provides a level of security. "If there was a camera in a parking garage, it would make me feel safe," she said

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