Georgetown Police adding extra "eyes" to help solve crime

One of the security cameras already in place downtown.

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WPDE) - The Georgetown Police Department is adding extra help to its staff, but not in the way you may be thinking. The department is adding eight more surveillance cameras downtown.

The chief said it isn't about Big Brother watching you.

"A camera gives you a place to start and to start working the facts," said Chief Paul Gardner.

Last month, Georgetown police received a call saying the downtown Christmas tree was damaged.

"There was a great deal of pride in that tree and the amount of work that went into making that tree look so beautiful," explained Chief Gardner.

The case likely would have remained unsolved, but thanks to a camera installed about a year ago, they were able to pull video showing who damaged the tree. In it, four people are hanging around the tree just after 2 a.m. A man in a yellow shirt jumps into the tree, and later climbs it taking out several strings of lights. Because of the video, Chief Gardner said the man responsible was identified within a couple days and charged with malicious injury to property.

"You see if we didn't have that, we would have nothing to work on, and that's why we here at the department pushed the cameras so aggressively," he explained.

It's vandalism today, but it could be a stolen car tomorrow. Chief Gardner said adding eight cameras to two busy intersections in the next month will be very useful. There are already 18 cameras in place.

"You're paying for an IP address. You're not paying a salary. You're not paying for gas in a car. You just have eyes and ears on the town when everybody else is sleeping and that makes it a good thing," he said. "I think it's important that we can make ourselves as smart as we can."

Downtown isn't the only place getting cameras. Through federal funds the housing authority is getting anywhere from 60 to 65. They have four cameras in place now, and it has already shown to be a crime deterrent.

Georgetown Housing Authority Executive Director Christina Woodruff said tenants are excited about the additional cameras.

"Most of the time in housing your problems come from outsiders coming into the complexes. It gives people a sense of security," said Woodruff. "This is just an enhancement to what we're currently doing and it benefits the neighbors that surround that complex."

The cameras for the Housing Authority will go up in the next three to six months. Georgetown police will have access to them.

"The new cameras will be digital so we can enlarge, replay better, and the images will be much clearer," added Chief Gardner.