SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County will allow the Wicomico County’s Sherriff’s Office to seek grant funding for a $17,035 portable surveillance camera.
In last week’s meeting of the Wicomico County Council, Lt. Rich Wiersberg and 1st Sgt. Mark Wagner approached councilmembers seeking approval to submit an application and receive grant funds, if chosen, that would pay for a high definition camera that will monitor crime activity in needed areas.
Wiersberg said the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention was accepting white paper applications with a two-page narrative and budget requirement between $15,000 and $200,000 to fund certain projects that target opioids and violent crimes.
“We quickly sat down with the sheriff and went over some needs,” he said. “It’s been on our goal list for quite some time when this came up. We are just waiting for Mr. Culver’s (Bob, county executive) signature and your approval to make it formal.”
He explained that the $17,035 the sheriff’s office has requested will be used to purchase a surveillance camera and its various components.
“We weren’t being greedy,” he said. “We just had a particular need. So we wrote the budget to exactly the amount we needed.”
Councilman Larry Dodd asked how the camera would be used.
“It sounds like these are dash cams?” he asked.
Wiersberg explained that the camera could be positioned in a car and other places using various mounting equipment.
“The equipment we are looking at now is probably about one to two feet high and will run off a battery that will send 4G information to our office, where we will be able to survey whatever we are looking at from a distance,” he said.
Wiersberg said the sheriff’s office currently has plans to use the camera in an area of the county where car theft has recently occurred.
“Right now we have some instances where cars are being broken into,” he said. “So if we feel that there’s enough intelligence gathered that we can focus on a particular area where a deputy can’t be just to see the comings and goings, it will help us narrow it down.”
Dodd asked if someone would be monitoring the footage.
“It depends on the situation we are using it for,” he replied, and added that the camera’s battery life is also limited.
Councilman John Hall inquired about the camera’s components and commented on its cost.
“This is one of the most expensive cameras I think I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Wiersberg said that although the system includes one camera, a portion of the money would be used to purchase mounting equipment, a case and more.
“It’s not just the camera, it’s the whole system together,” he replied.
Council President asked if purchasing the equipment would require a commitment to the company.
“Does this obligate us to an annual service contract?” he asked.
Wierberg replied that the sheriff’s office would not have to enter into a contract.
“It does come with a one-year warranty, but does not obligate us with a system at all,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the application and to allow the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office to accept the grant in the event it is awarded to the department.