ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — The City of Elkins has received a boost in funding of near a million dollars to go toward improving surveillance around the city, a process that’s been in the works since at least March.
According to a release, the Elkins Police Department (EPD) has received word that it will be allocated $950,000 from the U.S. Government to install around 75 street cameras, dashboard cameras in police vehicles and other “related public safety technologies.”
The Elkins City Council accepted the funds at Thursday’s meeting, and the project is now ready to move forward to the implementation phase.
The release said that the purpose of the project is to “increase EPD’s ability to gather evidence after crimes or traffic accidents and to automatically detect vehicles driven by persons being sought by law enforcement.” The latter part of that phrase refers to people who have active arrest warrants or people who have had a Silver or Amber alert issued for them.
The release said that the cameras will not be monitored live, but will record footage that can be consulted after the fact to aid in investigations. Similar systems are already in place throughout north central West Virginia in cities like Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Morgantown and White Hall.
The release specified that under West Virginia law, the cameras may not be used to issue traffic citations.
EPD Chief Travis Bennett said that camera placement is “being carefully considered to balance privacy and public safety.”
“We are not planning to place any cameras in primarily residential neighborhoods,” Bennett said. “We simply want to be able to look back at traffic movements and incidents occurring along the city’s major rights of way. There is no intention to try to capture activities on private property.”
Bennett said that the camera’s installation will proceed in three phases:
- Cameras will be placed at all major ingress and egress points to the city including Beverly Pike, Harrison Ave, North Randolph Ave, U.S. Rt. 33
- Cameras will be placed at all major intersections and points of interest throughout the city
- Cameras will be placed at all city parks
As well as traffic cameras, the EPD will also be installing dashcams in all of its vehicles.
“We were very excited to implement body-worn cameras on all EPD officers earlier this year, and we’re excited about implementing dashboard cameras for the same reasons,” Bennett said. “The more video recording we can produce about police activities and interactions with the public, the more accountability and safety there is for all parties involved. Body-worn cameras have already proved to be a great part of our toolset and dashboard cameras are going to play a positive role in our work as well.”
The release described this project as “necessary due to recent trends and pending developments in the Elkins region.”