Nassau Streets To Be Monitored By CCTV Cameras In 2011

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AN INTEGRATED network of CCTV cameras will start to monitor the streets of Nassau next year in the first wave of a new initiative to assist police in the fight against crime.

Plans formulated by the National CCTV Steering Committee with guidance from American consultants Hudson Sterling LLC are expected to be implemented in six to nine months time as 85 cameras across New Providence are linked by a national control centre.

The network funded and operated by a public-private partnership effort has been spearheaded by the committee formed two years ago by the Ministry of National Security.

And once the first phase has been launched in Nassau next year, it is expected to roll out across the country as it expands technologically and geographically to cover Grand Bahama and the Family Islands in future.

Stakeholders representing private enterprises, government departments and sections of the police force gathered to discuss plans over lunch at police headquarters in East Street yesterday.

Frank Comito, president of the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and a member of the public-private sector CCTV task force, announced factions of the private sector including the BHA, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and the Downtown Nassau Partnership, would fund the initial purchase of CCTV hardware and software equipment at an estimated cost of $100,000 to $200,000.

The committed network of private enterprises will also work to support the advancement of a citizens advisory group, Mr Comito said.

Police will train staff to manage and monitor the system at an estimated cost of around $500,000 per year, he explained.

It's an operation Acting Commissioner of Police Marvin Dames said will be critical for the advancement of policing.

Speaking in the absence of Commissioner Ellison Greenslade yesterday, Mr Dames said: "We are confident that with the introduction of this technology in high crime areas, business districts and valuable public spaces will greatly assist us in our efforts to police the Bahamas.

"We are confident that the expanded use of technology it will be an effective deterrent and detection measure through our various policing districts.

"There is no doubt that CCTV will have an impact on our policing initiatives."

Existing CCTV systems in Cable Beach, Woodes Rogers Walk in downtown Nassau, in the East Street South police district, and Cable Bahamas offices have already greatly assisted police efforts not only by allowing police to react quickly to crimes as they happen, but also by recording essential data for criminal prosecutions, committee members said.

By extending CCTV into high crime areas in inner-city Nassau, and throughout the busy business areas and tourist hubs, the public-private partnership hopes to crackdown on crime in Nassau and across the Bahamas.

Acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of National Security Peter Deveaux-Isaacs said Minister Tommy Turnquest is deeply committed to the advancement of security efforts.

"We have crime levels that are unacceptably high," he said.

"Bahamians are repulsed by the crime levels and the violence that has caused our communities to be unsafe and caused all of us discomfort and fear.

"Fighting crime requires commitment from private sector and government, and CCTV is a project the minister is passionate about ensuring it's launched as early as possible."

Mr Comito said 72 per cent of Bahamians pledged support for the CCTV system when he first researched the possibility of implementing CCTV ten years ago.

And he assured stakeholders their concerns about following correct protocols to ensure the integrity of data and people's right to privacy would be honoured.

Consultant Kirk Rhodes of American corporation Hudson Sterling LLC expanded on how the network will create a state-of-the-art extension to the human police force, with the capability of constant adaptation and expansion.

And chairman of the National CCTV Steering Committee Quinn McCartney, Grand Bahama senior assistant commissioner of police, said car number plate recognition to target violators of Road Traffic laws could be included in future technologies.

"The system will have a lot of capabilities," Mr McCartney said.

"If it can be implemented, we will consider it."

The Tribune
December 17, 2010