Some surveillance equipment could use an upgrade

March 23, 2013


When it comes to video surveillance cameras intended to catch bad guys committing crimes, they’re only as good as their weakest link.

Some are poor quality, producing grainy, low-resolution images that make it difficult to piece together an adequate description of suspects. Some of the cameras that have decent resolution either don’t provide an unobstructed view, or fail to operate when needed the most.

Then there are those that are simply hopeless. They just don’t work at all – sometimes because of neglect.

“The biggest issues we have on a regular basis with surveillance video are low resolution/quality, not enough camera coverage, and/or poor camera placement,” said veteran Granbury Police Department Detective Russell Grizzard.

He said that the higher cost prevents some merchants from upgrading to cameras with better resolution and greater storage space.

“We also see some systems which have better than average quality video, but they don’t have enough storage space so the oldest videos automatically get erased after a few days,” Grizzard said.

He said he advises merchants to get higher resolution cameras with enough digital storage space for at least 90 days of videos – as well as having enough cameras to eliminate “dead” zones in the video coverage area.

Ed Hearne, owner of Fall Creek Security and Heron Security of Granbury, agreed with the detective’s ideas.

“Fifty percent of the (camera systems) we run across, you can’t identify anybody on them, the picture’s so bad,” Hearne said. “The older cameras, a lot of people keep them around, but they don’t do any good.”

Hearne said his company doesn’t sell digital security cameras, but his employees monitor the system being used by the Indian Harbor subdivision south of Granbury, 24 hours a day.

“They do help prevent (crimes), but everybody has to update their system,” said Hearne, whose companies provide patrol and security officers and bodyguards, and security at special events.

Grizzard noted another problem that may sound somewhat surprising.

“Merchants also need to pay attention to the placement of cameras and displays in the stores. I’ve seen several videos in which the quality is good and the camera placement is good, but the merchant then puts up various displays in a spot which blocks the camera.”

Maintenance issues can also foil the effort to capture burglars and other crooks in the act.

“Merchants will spend the money to have a video system installed, but don’t properly maintain it,” Grizzard said. “Consequently, when it is needed the system isn’t working.”

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