BRADENTON -- Five years ago, when cameras went up on the poles in the South County district of Manatee, crime went down. That equipment is outdated and struggling to function properly. But at Tuesday's BOCC meeting, Commissioners voted unanimously to replace that gear with a new high-tech, high-definition fiberoptic system. The Sheriff's Office shares the credit for the crime reduction and stepped up to share the cost of the new system as well. The citizens in south county say they are living in a better place.
For decades, parts of south Manatee County took claim to the highest rate of crime. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) struggled to get the tools needed to keep citizens safe and stores open, that is, until the South County Community Redevelopment Area (SCCRA) was formed. Then, slowly but surely, life in south county got better. Improvements are credited to the focused investments by county officials and the added surviellance MCSO has placed on the district.
The new fiberoptic system will replace the 11 old, wireless cameras that are attached to 7light poles, with new ones. The new equipment can operate at five times the number and capacity as the old.
Sharing in the cost is the MCSO, providing half of the initial $300,000 to revamp the system, with SCCRA providing the other half, and the county will supply the $30,000 annually to operate and maintain the system. The installation of the fiberoptic cable will consume $125,000 of the initial cost.
Paul Alexander, Information Technology Department Director for Manatee County, says it's a whole new ball game with the new high-def cameras, capable of night vision with infrared. Alexander says the images MCSO will monitor will greatly improve their ability to police high crime areas.
A few south county citizens and CRA members were at the meeting, and they thanked commissioners for their efforts and for making their neighborhood a safer place to live.
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