Dozens of surveillance cameras could appear on neighborhood streets in Chester

Dozens of surveillance cameras could appear on neighborhood streets in Chester

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — There were 130 calls made to 911 for shots fired over the past year in Chester County. Most of those calls came in from in and around the city of Chester.

There were more than a dozen shooting incidents, where people were hurt or killed.

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People in Chester have had to deal with hearing gunfire at night and seeing cars and houses shot at.

Local police have held community meetings to address the violence and called in South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents to help boost their presence.

Now, they're looking to do more.

On Wednesday afternoon, Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey, along with members of the County Council and local business leaders, got a look at something that could help: cameras mounted around the county.

Dorsey said the cameras will not invade privacy and will be aimed at public streets, providing around-the-clock surveillance and information.

“It’s no different than if I had a deputy sitting there on the side of the road,” Dorsey said. “Would that be practical, though? No.”

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These cameras, demonstrated by a company called Flock Safety, are commonly used to read license tags.

That would only be part of the benefit in Chester County.

They are motion-activated and could see people walking, cars passing or even a crime in progress.

On many recent shooting calls, police found little to help them make an arrest other than shell casings on the ground.

Neighbors are often asleep, and there's nothing to go on.

"We have numerous shooting cases where there are no witnesses and no physical evidence, and the community expects us to solve these," Dorsey said.

The cameras are web-based and run off solar power and a cell signal.

No one expects this to be the answer for crime problems, but it’s one tool that could make a difference.

Officials haven’t yet determined where the cameras would be placed if they’re bought.

The sheriff wants to start with 30 cameras mounted around the county at a cost of $60,000 a year. That’s a maintenance fee as part of an annual lease.

Then they could expand from there.

The cameras can also be moved to follow crime trends.

The images they capture will stay in the system for 30 days.

The plan still has to come up for a County Council vote before it can happen.

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