Check out our eyes in the sky

Senior sergeant Brett Calkin in front of the upgraded equipment.
Senior sergeant Brett Calkin in front of the upgraded equipment.

Palmerston North’s security eyes in the sky are sharper than ever, thanks to new closed circuit television technology.

A full upgrade of the 12 closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) throughout the central city and The Square was undertaken by the Palmerston North City Council in December last year.

Palmerston North Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said the new cameras were a vast improvement on the old ones, which were seven years old at the time they were replaced.

The cameras record 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and recorded data is kept for 28 days.

There were problems with the old cameras regularly breaking down, often meaning only seven of the 12 were operational and, because of their age, they were difficult to get parts for, he said.

The new cameras displayed colour at night, and had a better resolution and zoom function, making number plates easier to read, or smaller details easier to see from further away.

The focus of the camera can be moved around with the click and drag of a mouse.

During the day, when disorder offences tended to be less common, the cameras were on a pre-set system so the views on the security screens were constantly changing, he said.

While they were not manned during the day, there was always someone in the room they were operating in, and if calls came in about an incident they could be checked.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the cameras were manned by a trained member of the Safe City Hosts.

Among their duties was to look out for groups of people, their behaviour and body language, to pre-empt any disorder or violence before it could  happen.

If they saw anything that seemed
off, they could send a colleague or a police officer to attend the scene.

Often that just meant having a Safe City Host stand near the group, and that usually defused the situation, he said.

Police staff were due to be issued iPhones and iPads in the near future, and there would be an app available that allowed them real-time access to the camera footage, so officers coming into a scene from other areas could see what was happening, he said.

The cameras had a ‘‘prevention’’ focus and were used with other methods of policing, so data on how many arrests had been a direct result of the footage was not kept.

Manawatu Standard