Police surveillance cameras set for downtown area

HARLINGEN — Parts of the historic downtown district should be wired with security cameras around the end of this month, Harlingen police commanders said yesterday.

Interim Police Chief Michael Kester told a meeting of downtown merchants and some city officials yesterday that the Harlingen Police Department has been working for a year to purchase the right camera system along with four surveillance cameras for the district.

“They’re on the way, and hopefully by the end of the month we’ll have them on a couple of the intersections here to help with some security and safety downtown,” Kester said.

Surveillance cameras in urban areas in the United States are becoming increasingly common.

Commander Ray Cavazos said the department paid a Dallas-area firm, WCCTV, about $32,000 to set up the system and to install four cameras, some stationary and others which will be able to zoom in on a street. These cameras, once operational, will store video for about 30 days before the cameras automatically over-write their memory chips.

“If we have an issue and we see something or see somebody of interest, we will be able to focus in on that or if there’s an incident that we had somewhere, we can actually focus in on the incident of that area,” Cavazos said. “If we want to add cameras … all we have to do is basically mount it and it will just link it into the cellular or Wi-Fi.”

Cavazos said any additional cameras added to the system would cost around $2,500 apiece. He encouraged downtown merchants to partner with his department and buy and donate a camera trained on their business which could be incorporated into the system.

He said the final surveillance spots for the cameras will be determined after a walk-through of the downtown area along 1st Street and A Street.

Two cameras will be positioned on each block.

Cavazos said the department has plans for at least one of the cameras in the system to be available for public viewing via online livestreaming.

“With the stationary camera, we’re going to make it so the public can log into it and they will be able to see downtown as well, and that’s kind of nice,” Cavazos said. “You can watch parades, although you’re not going to have access to the zoom.”