Say Cheese! New CCTV Program in Orillia

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The SCRAM system will require public participation; financial incentives will be made available to those who enroll in the program

The Orillia Police Services Board has approved a new surveillance system, but it will take community effort to make it work.

At a special meeting on Friday, the board voted to implement the Security Camera Registry and Mapping Program (SCRAM), with the goal of launching it in mid-April. It will replace the current city center surveillance camera system, which had many technical problems, but it will also allow for the expansion of a coordinated system throughout the city.

Last year, city council approved $100,000 for a “crime prevention and detection initiative.” SCRAM is the result.

Under SCRAM, residents and businesses will have the ability to install cameras outside their buildings and register those cameras with Orillia OPP.

When investigating crimes, officers often scour the area trying to obtain information, but this takes time and resources, said board secretary Leigh Kenderdine. With SCRAM, “officers can quickly identify who in the area may have footage and ask for their help,” she said.

The board also approved an initial allocation of $25,000 for a rebate program. Those who register with SCRAM and claim a rebate could be eligible for a refund of up to 50% of the value of their camera systems, up to a maximum of $500 per registered property. The police services board may decide to increase funding for the rebate program based on the level of interest in it.

One camera system per property address would qualify for the discount.

Owners must agree to abide by the privacy rules.

Applicants will receive information on the types of eligible camera systems.

Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, although priority will be given to those in the following areas: Mississaga Street from Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to the Port of Orillia, Colborne Street from Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to Front Street and West Ridge Boulevard between Frost Court and Hunter Valley Road.

The board also approved $3,000 to promote the program.

The SCRAM system is used in municipalities such as Barrie, Cobourg, Halton Region, North Bay and St. Thomas, and council member Darylene Forrest asked how it was received in those communities.

Mayor Steve Clarke, chairman of the board, said he spoke with Halton’s deputy police chief and was told “they have found it extremely beneficial to have this system in place”.

North Bay has been using SCRAM for over a year, and despite the lack of an incentive program, over 50 properties have been registered.

“Modest, but that’s 50 more cameras than before,” said board executive director Kristine Preston.

She hopes the incentive in Orillia will lead to greater participation.

Board member Megan Bondy asked if there was any data from participating municipalities to show the effectiveness of the program. He was told the information was not available, but Orillia OPP Insp. Veronica Eaton, the detachment commander, said SCRAM would be “only beneficial”.

“Even in our day-to-day policing…we now go looking for people who might have these doorbell cameras, just to see if we can catch it,” she said. “It will only hopefully improve that and be much more efficient for us, especially when an event is urgent.”

Orillia OPP will keep data on SCRAM, including how often it is used to assist police, and report back to council by June 2022.

Most of the 12 existing cameras downtown are “unusable and beyond repair,” Preston said.

The system was installed in 2013, and while it has had many issues, “it’s also important to recognize that the system has aided the OPP in their investigations on a number of occasions,” he said. she stated.

These cameras will be deleted. Under the motion passed at Friday’s meeting, Orillia Power or Hydro One will be allowed to disconnect electrical service from the existing system. Additionally, local company Electronic Lifestyles will be hired to decommission the system, which will cost $1,288.

Clarke said he wasn’t a fan of downtown surveillance cameras when he became mayor, but now he’s in on the action.

He noted that the existing system “was probably installed with insufficient hardware (or) could have been installed differently”.

He hopes residents and businesses will embrace SCRAM.

“We need significant participation to make this work,” he said.

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