Neighborhood representatives are proposing security camera programs in Pine Hills and North Buckhead in the hope of curbing property crime.
“Our crime levels are usually very low, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to get them lower,” said Gordon Certain, the president of the North Buckhead Civic Association.
The Buckhead Coalition is also planning a program and will announce details on a security camera program next month, said Sam Massell, the president of the organization.
The cameras North Buckhead is considering could capture color video of vehicles as well as license tag numbers. It is looking into how to connect its system into the city’s comprehensive security camera system, the Loudermilk Video Integration Center, which links approximately 10,400 publicly and privately owned cameras.
The Pine Hills Neighborhood Association is planning to install 10 cameras that would also link into the system.
Certain estimates North Buckhead’s program would cost $6,000 for two years. Pine Hills’ program, which would be run by Georgia Power, would be $70,000 for three year.
The Atlanta Police Department supports neighborhoods purchasing camera systems because they can collect “valuable evidence,” said Maj. John Quigley, the executive officer for strategy and special projects.
“We feel that a camera is the next best thing to having a police officer,” Quigley said.
The cameras have to be compatible with the software used in the center. The center only records video from city-owned cameras, and it keeps the video for 14 days. Video from cameras operated by other entities, including private companies on behalf of neighborhood associations, are not recorded and stored by the center, but can be accessed by its officers if needed, Quigley said.
Certain presented several proposals for the camera system at the Feb. 8 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, which he later described in an interview.
North Buckhead may move forward with a pilot program that would install two cameras in two parts of the neighborhood, Certain said.
If the pilot programs move forward and prove to be effective by helping the police find accused criminals, the association would try to garner support from the neighborhood for a more robust system that would cover the neighborhood in chunks.
“To be successful, we need to focus on smaller areas,” he said. “The philosophy would be to break the neighborhood into small hunks or cells which would have a camera at every cell exit.”
The NBCA is exploring two pilot programs: one on Ivy Road, which has about 100 homes, and another on Alexander Road. Alexander Road turns off of Phipps Boulevard opposite the entrance to the Phipps Plaza and includes hundreds of homes, including a condominium building and two apartment complexes. The two are both dead end roads that could be monitored with a simple, one-camera set up, Certain said.
“These two pilot projects would let us acquire real-world experience in having a security camera system. We could learn how to best respect the privacy needs of the residents while helping protect them from crime,” he said.
The cameras would be pointed at the street and not at homes, and capture video only when it detects a car or pedestrians, Certain said.
A for-profit corporation would own, install, and operate the cameras and have access to the images, which will be stored for 30 days, Certain said.
Members of the neighborhood association’s security committee would also have access, but the association has not determined under what circumstances yet, he said. Neighbors may also be provided access to the images if a relevant police report has been filed, he said. It hasn’t decided what company would operate the cameras.
Residents would also be able to opt out of the recording of their cars being saved by submitting a request to the camera operator. The car would be initially recorded by a camera, but the video would be deleted when the software identifies its license plate as belonging to a resident who has opted out of the program, Certain said.
NBCA would fund the two pilot programs if it continues to move forward with them, but will encourage the residents who live there in those areas to contribute. It would cost about $6,000 to fund both cameras for two years, he said. If other areas of North Buckhead want to join the camera program, those residents would need to raise the funds, Certain said.
“Those areas in the neighborhood that aren’t interested or don’t have sufficient numbers willing to pay will be free to do without. While the overall system won’t fail if some areas don’t join, the more camera cells we have, the safer the neighborhood will be,” he said.
Pine Hills is entering into a partnership with Georgia Power to install and maintain 10 surveillance cameras at major entry points and roadways that would integrate with the city of Atlanta’s camera surveillance systems. The cameras would be installed on Canter, Ferncliffe and East and West Wieuca roads, according to a map on the association’s website.
Association president Nancy Bliwise said the program needs more residents to commit to the project so it can be fully funded.
“We are in the campaign development phase as we need more members in order to afford this. So, it is approved but not implemented,” Bliwise said.
The association will need about 300 members to contribute a combined $70,000 to the program to have sufficient funds for the camera installation and to fund the program for three years, according to the website.
Access to the surveillance records will be granted only to police for the purpose of solving reported crimes, according to the association’s website.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that one of the North Buckhead Civic Association’s cameras would be on Old Ivy Road. The camera would instead be on Ivy Road. It is also incorrectly stated that the Pine Hills Civic Association’s program would cost $700,000 for three years. It would instead cost $70,000.