Horry County looks to surveillance cameras to aid police

Horry County wants to install more surveillance cameras in public places.

County officials say they're a good law enforcement tool, but some people have concerns about them.

The county has selected Wildfire Connections as the vendor to supply surveillance cameras.

One place the county is looking to install the cameras is at the animal care center, which does not have round-the-clock security, but does have things on site 24-hours-a-day that are attractive to thieves.

Those include pit bull dogs and other live animals.

"We want to make sure they're safe. We also have lots of equipment and other things that go along with veterinarian care that's in that facility that we need to make sure that we protect," said Horry County public information officer Lisa Bourcier.

So Bourcier says the county will use two state grants to buy surveillance cameras for the animal shelter and other public places.

At the top of that list will be county boat landings.

"There are some vandalism that goes along with boat landings. They're not manned. Car break-ins and also illegal dumping," Bourcier said.

Coastal Carolina University political science professor Frederick Wood says there may well be public benefits from surveillance cameras, but there's no harm in asking officials how they will be used.

That's especially in light of the early controversy over airport body scanners.

"Who was accessing the images, were they stored, were they deleted? This is a question that we should have about our government. What's going to happen to this information?" Wood said.

Wood says citizens should be reasonable in listening to the rationale for cameras, but the government should have to justify the use of them, just as it would justify a road project.

"We want the police when we call them. It's when we don't want them to be driving next to us or behind us. That's where this fear can come from."

Bourcier says the county won't hide the cameras. They will be visible. She's not aware of anyone expressing privacy concerns.

After installing cameras at boat landings and the animal shelter, Bourcier says the county will look at recreation centers and libraries.