10/14/13 — Commissioner urges more cameras in Mount Olive

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Commissioner urges more cameras in Mount Olive

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on October 14, 2013 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- County Commissioner Ed Cromartie gave the Mount Olive Town Board a surprise visit Monday night when he came to the board for public comment and for some show-and-tell. In his hand was a bag full of copper piping.

"I think everyone in this room, and everyone who reads the newspaper knows there is no more copper left behind grandma's house, behind the pigpen or out in the ditch. All the copper that is taken to Goldsboro to sell has come out of somebody's house, out of somebody's business."

And Cromartie's solution? He asked the town board to "belly up" and purchase more cameras to be added to the recently installed town surveillance system for a more complete coverage. Cromartie, a former member of the Mount Olive Town Board, spurred the initial purchase of the system.

Town Manager Charles Brown estimated that a more complete coverage -- or covering the entrances and exits of the town -- would require purchasing 18 more cameras on top of the five that the town currently owns. Two other cameras purchased by Mount Olive College are also plugged into the town's system.

Individuals are able to buy individual cameras that can be plugged into the overall system for about $4,500 each. Eighteen cameras would cost the town more than $80,000.

Mount Olive police can tap into the feeds from patrol cars and from a centralized terminal in the station. Mount Olive's video cameras are capable of 24/7 surveillance and record at 30 frames per second.

"In the last two years, I've had five houses, some would say six on account of one being owned by my relatives, that have been vandalized to get copper out of them," Cromartie said.

Copper thefts have become a regular occurrence in the county. Criminals will go under houses to pull out copper piping to sell for a few hundred while causing thousands of dollars of damage to properties, law enforcement officials say.

"I want my stuff protected. I want everybody else's stuff protected. I want to see every other person who goes into developed properties to provide good living, additions for folk that they feel like they're protected," Cromartie said.

Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. asked whether Cromartie would ask the county for any potential funding for more cameras.

"I will march back to the next meeting and make a motion on the floor that we chip in. I don't know if it's going to happen or not, Mr. Mayor, but I came down here to let you know tonight, I don't know if they'll go for 18 more, but I'll go back up there and ask for six. In the same token -- I think we should do something for Pikeville, Eureka and everywhere else. If there's anything we can do to make any other municipality a little bit safer, wherever the need is, I will stand firm to do that," Cromartie said.

"If it takes 18, I implore this board to look at the budget and look at a way to do it. The town manager said they would do four ever year, my hair has already turned white, but it will probably turn loose before we get all them in," Cromartie said.

"We got to do something, and I think that something is now. We just can't afford to wait."

No action was taken by the board, but McDonald agreed to meet with Cromartie and try to figure out any possible solutions to buying additional cameras.