Cameras put eyes on downtown Millsboro

MILLSBORO – Wireless cameras are now providing a continuous video view of Millsboro’s downtown business district.

Three cameras swung into action in early March, providing 24/7 surveillance of a good portion of Main Street. Cameras are positioned on three businesses: Dollar General, Antique Alley and Gunshooter Enterprises.

Surveillance of the downtown district, as well as from other cameras positioned near developments, is accessible on screens in the Millsboro Police Department’s command center hub.

It’s designed for public safety and is more than a visual deterrent to crime, says Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway.

“It’s not just for criminal issues,” Chief Calloway said. “We can certainly use this to look at monitoring traffic, to see what we are doing, if the light is cycling properly … what is the best way to effectively to get travel through Millsboro more efficient?”

“This is just another way for us to be able have eyes on our downtown,” Chief Calloway said.

Chief Calloway said he doesn’t view this as invasion of privacy. He said it’s a mode to further enhance “public safety.”

“I certainly understand people’s concerns with it comes to ‘Big Brother.’ I understand that,” Chief Calloway said. “But every day we do foot patrols and they have been very receptive. Everybody sees that in our town. Well, there are often times where we can’t be there to do those things. This is just another way for us to be able to have eyes on the town, when we can’t always be there.”

Total cost, including hardware, equipment and installation, was around $33,000, Chief Calloway said.

Funding came from grant money allocated to the Millsboro Police Department through the Fund to Combat Violent Crimes. Millsboro’s town council last September approved slightly more than $35,000 in the fiscal year 2019 FCVC funding, which can also be used to cover drug enforcement overtime hours, rental vehicles and drug surveillance.

Partnership with businesses was vital because Delmarva Power does not allow cameras to be placed on utility poles, which was the initial plan, Chief Calloway said. So, the police department reached out to businesses.

“We were more than happy to sponsor putting that camera on the building,” said Gunshooter Enterprises owner Roger Perry. “We think it is very good for security downtown, for pedestrians, and also vehicular traffic. We agree wholeheartedly. Millsboro is very pro-business. This is just one other thing.”

“To be able to even have this project become successful we had to partner with these businesses, and we had to slap these cameras on their property,” said Chief Calloway.

In return, those businesses have “real time” access to video from their cameras on their building – inside their business as well remotely via cell phone or similar devises through an IP address, Chief Calloway said.

In interaction with business owners through police foot patrols, feedback has been “very positive,” Chief Calloway said.

The camera system can be expanded.

“… That is why we chose to go with this wireless system. We can expand this as large as we would like to. Right now, this is our initial start,” said Chief Calloway. “I really wanted this to be integrated in the downtown redevelopment plan that we are currently underway with.”

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