Myrtle Beach leads way with surveillance cameras

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As Florence City Council considers putting surveillance cameras in one neighborhood, they may look to Myrtle Beach as a guide.

Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea said Wednesday the city has had video cameras monitoring public areas for three to four years. Right now there are about 20 cameras he said.

15 of those are along Ocean Boulevard or on the boardwalk, and most of those are concentrated in the boardwalk area. The other five cameras are in areas including recreation facilities and ball parks Kruea said.

"They're not inexpensive devices. The camera and the wireless connection is about a thousand dollars to twelve hundred dollars," Kruea explained. "So we're concentrating on high traffic areas as this point, but that's not to say we wouldn't consider putting them in a neighborhood situation if the need arose."

Kruea said those cameras can help the city monitor busy times and plan for the future. They can also capture incidents such as traffic accidents or crime. Sometimes the use is unplanned like the camera that spotted teenager Brittanee Drexel the night she disappeared.

"Fortunately we don't have to use them that often," Kruea said. "That's a good thing, but they are tools that are there. They're around the clock. If you need to know what happened at ten o'clock last night, boy you can pull up the camera and find out what happened."

Many people walking along Ocean Boulevard Wednesday said they like the idea of the cameras monitoring the area. They said the cameras could improve safety by deterring crime.

"I think having them along Ocean Boulevard is a good idea because it's a high traffic area," said Connie Glenn of Columbia, SC.

However, Glenn had a different point of view about the possibility of using the cameras in neighborhoods. She said that type of use brings up concerns about privacy like the ones expressed by some Florence homeowners.

"That's a privacy issue, and I really don't like the idea of having them in a neighborhood, unless the people in the neighborhood request them."

Kruea said surveillance cameras only monitor public places such as streets and parks. Neighborhoods may not automatically get an exemption from surveillance.

"You really shouldn't have any expectation of privacy in a public place," Kruea said.

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