Cameras, Cop Gear Tabled

RIDGEWAY – Town Council tabled a decision on the purchase of security cameras for downtown during their Dec. 12 meeting after receiving four bids from three companies, ranging from $1,669 to $4,987. It was the second time in as many meetings that the purchase of cameras had been deferred.

“I still think we should target that money toward the Police Department first,” Councilman Donald Prioleau said, “and get our Police Department up to standards, and then go do these cameras.”

Mayor Charlene Herring said the money for the cameras would come out of the Town’s contingency fund, and not the police budget. The contingency money could not, she said, be used for recurring costs, such as the salary of more police officers, as Prioleau had suggested. And, she said, cameras provide another level of security when the Town’s part-time police officers are not on duty. The downtown merchants, Herring said, support the idea of cameras and sent a letter to Council stating as much.

“Most merchants, anywhere else you go, are responsible for their own security,” Councilman Russ Brown said. “I’m a merchant on Main Street, and I have stuff that could be stolen out of my office, but I think some of the responsibility should fall back on the merchants. It’s easy to write a letter and just put your name on it and say you want something paid for by somebody else, but I think there needs to be some time of accountability from the merchants themselves.”

Herring said that the merchants have done a great deal to put Ridgeway on the map, and that the cameras were about more than security for the merchants, they were about security for the town. The cameras, she said, would be set up to view Main Street and the back side of the buildings along the south side of Main Street.

The lowest bid of $1,669.20 came from Cor Digital Technology of Columbia and included eight cameras, additional equipment and installation. Cor also turned in a bid of $3,672.77 for eight-camera HD package. Capture It Surveillance turned in a bid of $2,570 for a six-camera package, and Electronic Systems submitted a bid of $4,987.35 for eight cameras.

“The surveillance cameras are going all the time,” Councilman Doug Porter pointed out, “and our police officers are part time.”

Prioleau suggested looking into prices for wildlife cameras, which he said were less expensive. He said he could not vote for the purchase of the cameras as presented if a vote were called for Thursday night.

“I don’t think we’re to the point where we’ve got to have cameras,” Prioleau said, “with just two people in the Police Department and there are question marks about one of them.”

Council voted unanimously during their Nov. 14 meeting to offer a part-time police officer position to Malcolm Little. Little, who currently lives in Rock Hill, put in 12 years of service with the N.Y. City Police Department, from 1997 to 2009, before moving down South. He did a short stint with the Chester Sheriff’s Office, from May to August, 2011, before switching uniforms to the Chester Police Department, where he served from November 2011 to September 2012. Little is currently employed with G4S Special Police, a private security firm in Charlotte.

But since his hire, Little has only worked the Ridgeway Christmas parade on Dec. 1. After last week’s meeting, Herring said Little was still working out his scheduling with G4S and Town Hall said they had not yet received Little’s paperwork indicating his certification as a police officer.

Other needs for Ridgeway’s Police Department – a computer system and the accompanying software to enable police to tap into the national crime database – were also tabled.

In non-police related business, Council accepted a bid of $410 from Dwayne Styles to repair the kitchen door at the Century House. Styles’ bid came in under a bid of $543.75 from SteelRose Construction.

SteelRose’s bid of $258.50 was good enough to secure the job of repairing the door at Just Around the Corner, coming in under Styles’ bid of $360.

Council also gave the OK to a $350 bonus for full-time employees and $150 for part-time employees.

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