After two public meetings, one of which was held for a security camera demonstration by INA Alert out of Kansas, and the other at Majestic Theater March 15, the City of Hebron has launched an unofficial vote at City Hall.
Residents of Hebron may cast their vote as “For or Against” cameras at all entrances and exits of Hebron or “For or Against” cameras at city properties, such as the pool, ball park or tree pile.
Two meetings were actually held last week, March 15 and 17 because of a date mix-up on posters that first advertised the public meeting for March 17. Moderator Justin Bomar wasn’t available for the March 17 date, but the city council was tied to both meetings after announcing them, and required to be there.
Mayor Doug Huber said no one showed at the March 17 meeting.
Bomar was requested by the city to read questions residents had an opportunity to submit before the meeting about the security cameras and answers provided by the city.
He began the March 15 meeting by reading a letter to the city from Bob Reinke that noted there is a misconception security cameras solve everything.
“But they don’t,” Reinke wrote. “I have used them for over 20 years and the success is very limited.”
Reinke went on to name six points as to why there are issues with video cameras, such as criminals covering themselves to avoid detection and cameras that didn’t record an individual actually committing a crime is a lack of proof.
“There are dozens of recorded crimes, or partially recorded ones that have never been solved in Thayer County,” Reinke wrote. “People will be very disappointed if you spend a lot of money on this and no one is ever convicted.”
Additional input included the question “How many threats have we had that this would solve?” and “Why not let the people vote on this issue?”
Sheriff David Lee provided an answer to the first question — It depends on the footage obtained from the camera.
“These would be used as a tool to assist with an investigation when necessary,” Bomar quoted Lee.
A vote would require security cameras to be placed on the general election ballot at a cost of approximately $2,000 to $4,000 for a special election.
After Bomar read public comments and questions and answers, several citizens at the meeting also had questions.
Huber said the cameras became a topic of discussion when the construction company working on the pool had $40,000 in equipment stolen.
“Had we had these cameras in place, we might have figured out who did it,” Huber said.
“I brought it up because I had to do the investigation on the plumbing theft and the pop machine that was stolen,” Council member Tim Pickering said. “My thought is how do we protect investment downtown. If no one wants them at the intersections, fine. I’m good with focusing on the pool and concession stand.”
He said if the community doesn’t want the cameras, there wasn’t a need to talk about who will have access.
Doug Modlin of The Bottle Shop said it would have made more sense if Lee had been the official to propose the cameras. He said the process thus far has been backward.
“If you want cameras at the pool, concession stand and on city property, then let’s focus on that,” Modlin said.