Camden police to replace audio-video equipment

By Stephanie Grinnell | Jan 25, 2013
Source: File photo Camden Police Chief Randy Gagne

Camden — Camden selectmen on Jan. 22 approved a more than $25,000 bid to replace the police department's aging audio and video recording equipment.

Police Chief Randy Gagne said the current equipment was installed in 2003 and has "never [been] shut off since that day." The analog system memory is limited and officers are forced into "rewriting faster than we would like" over older recordings to make room for new ones.

"It's been on its last legs for, well, I started talking to [former Town Manager] Roberta [Smith] about it when she was here," Gagne said.

He said there have been few problems with the system aside from storage capacity. According to previously published reports, and confirmed by Gagne, a December court case resulted in a plea deal for a drug offense due to deletion of a video interview.

"That recording wasn't asked for [in time] and recorded over," he said.

Gagne said recordings are transferred to discs on a regular basis but in the case of long weekends, sometimes information is not transferred quickly enough to prevent rewriting over older content. The current system only is able to store content for four or five days, he said.

"The new system won't be as time sensitive," he said, adding discs still will be regularly created.

The new audio and video system will be digital with six terabytes of storage, Gagne said. The increased storage should allow for a longer archive period, he said, adding, "We want to have 30-day storage."

"That's an incredible amount of storage for us," he said, noting Waldo County has a four terabyte system to manager a greater amount of data than is typical for Camden.

In addition to increased storage, all of the existing interior and exterior cameras will be replaced and two more cameras will be added to the department's equipment, he said.

Gagne said there are "noted deficiencies" in exterior camera coverage of police cars and placement of one of the new cameras — toward the police department — is expected to cut down on damage to cruisers. He said several incidents of vandalism have taken place, including to his own department vehicle.

"I've had a window smashed out of a cruiser and other some other damage to cruisers," Gagne said.

He said the analog equipment is of little resale value but will be re-purposed to allow placement of remote cameras for ongoing police investigations.

"The old system is still going to be of great value," Gagne said. "We've used that other one as long as we've dared. It's a much needed upgrade for the department."

He said images on the monitors for the old system are permanently burned into the screens after nearly 10 years of constant use.

"If we get the service out of the new one we got out of the old one, I'll be happy," Gagne said.

Both the old and new audio and video system bids were awarded to Seacoast Security, he said. During the past 10 years, Gagne said he could only recall three times the system required service from the company. The new digital system manufactured by Panasonic will have warranties ranging from one to five years, eliminating the need for a service contract with Seacoast Security, he said.

Money to pay for the audio and video upgrades will come from previously budgeted funds, he said. A few installation incidental costs may be incurred for technicians to merge the old and new systems, Gagne said.

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