The city soon will have three security cameras mounted in its gymnasium inside city hall after aldermen voted to accept the offer of one of the companies to provide the service.
During the board’s most recent meeting last week, St. Clair’s four aldermen unanimously decided to go with Alarm Security of St. Louis.
The company’s system will cost the city about $900 for the cameras, installation and activation plus a $20 per month fee to provide an interactive monitoring service.
The aldermen and St. Clair Police Chief Bill Hammack questioned Alarm Security representative Chris Moss, who attended Monday’s board meeting. The focus on the discussion centered on the camera feed, camera clarity and storage.
“The most important thing we look for is to have a decent amount of recording time,” Hammack said. “And we need to be able to download footage for evidentiary purposes. On top of that, we need cameras with clarity.”
Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs agreed.
“I think clarity is the big thing,” he said. “With actually having a little more camera detail, we can better put our eyes on it and have the chief put his eyes on it.”
Moss used his cellular phone to demonstrate the clarity of the camera surveillance system. He used a live feed of a demonstration system and passed it around to the aldermen, Mayor Ron Blum, City Administrator Rick Childers and City Attorney Kurt Voss, who all sit at the board table in the front of the meeting room.
“It’s a live feed,” Moss said. “It’s all monitored based on motion. When it (camera) is activated, notification will be sent. The only time it will record is when someone is in the gym.”
Footage can be viewed from any computer or cellphone that is allowed into the city’s specific system.
Depending on the amount of use the gym gets and thus the amount of time the cameras are in operation will dictate the length of time before the system is full and filming starts recording over itself.
Moss said any footage can be downloaded, stored and kept. He also said the cameras will be wired to provide a better picture and that the system can be expanded if needed.
“We need a policy on how any footage will be maintained,” Childers said. “My recommendation is that we find some amount of time every two weeks or so to review information to see if anything has happened.
“I don’t think there is going to be a huge amount of problems, and the presence of the cameras themselves should solve a lot of those problems, at least I certainly hope so.”
The city deemed some kind of security system was needed in the gym after human feces was found on the floor there in early February. The mess was found at the end of a workday by a city employee when the facility was checked and doors scheduled to be locked.
At that time, board members told Childers to look into providing some kind of video surveillance system.
On May 7, Childers discussed three proposals he had received from various vendors and then was instructed to bring back more information, including specific costs and services and visual demonstrations, at a future meeting.
“As we’ve discussed at a past meeting, one of our hopes is not to have an unpleasant situation like this again in our gym,” Childers said during the first May meeting.
On May 21, the city administrator said he had contacted the firms that submitted the two lowest bids and was hopeful that representatives would attend the first meeting in June to provide information as well as answer questions on how their system would work.
Alarm Security was one of those companies. Eye Spy Electronics & More LLC was the other. A representative from that firm also was at the June 4 board meeting.
Eye Spy’s surveillance system was more expensive. A two-camera option had a $2,400 price tag. Adding a third camera tacked on another $950.
Childers also reminded the board in May that adding the gym surveillance system was an unbudgeted item. It also was not disclosed when the approved system would be installed and operational.
Before the February incident, the city gymnasium was open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday though Friday. After the human waste was discovered, the city started padlocking the facility doors from 2 to 4:30 p.m. At 4:30, the gym still becomes available to individuals or groups who have rented it. The same holds true on weekends.
Anyone who wishes to use it when it’s locked during the workday may get a key from the collector’s office.