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VILLAGE PROPERTY TO BE PROTECTED BY CAMERAS

Would-be vandals and other criminals in Silver Creek may think twice before risking being "caught on tape."

In an attempt to deter crime, village officials are considering the strategic placement of as many as 16 security cameras on village property.

"I'm taking steps to protect my own property and employees and offered to do it for the rest of the village," Police Chief Lou Pelletter said.

The Police Department recently purchased a security system for about $3,000, including a 15-inch monitor, cameras and videocassette recorder. Village employees will do the installation work.

"We budgeted for it a little at a time," said Pelletter, adding that the security system has been under discussion for more than a year.

"This also can prevent false claims from being filed against officers," he said. "Eventually, we would like to have cameras installed in the (patrol) cars. A lot of police departments have done this. We just don't have the funding for it right now."

The village has faced ongoing problems with vandalism to the downtown gazebo, the ballpark and police and street department vehicles.

"We're not trying to be a Gestapo here," Mayor Vince Tampio said. "We're really just trying to break even."

This past summer, about $100 was stolen from the village clerk's office, where a camera has been installed. The camera is positioned to show the cashier's drawer area and doors to the mayor's office and a restroom. The inside of the mayor's office and the restroom are not visible.

Additionally, the camera does not focus on any staffer's personal work areas. A small monitor allows the staff to see who is entering the office.

"It does feel a little strange seeing yourself on camera and knowing other people can see you," Village Clerk Cynthia Klocko said. "It takes a while to get used to, but soon you forget it's even there. It really is for our own protection. And, if we ever had a break-in, it could provide a break in the case."

Another camera has been placed at a back door entrance of the police station.

"We can't just open that door blind without knowing who is there," Pelletter said.

Dispatcher Carol Waugh said she buzzed open the back door one day and had a suspect walk right into her office. The entrance usually is approached only by village employees.

Pelletter said the system is intended to protect property, not monitor the general public. It also can provide evidence to make arrests.

"If this is what the public wants, fine," the chief said. "If not, I'm out of it."

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