Ste­wart look­ing into se­cu­rity cam­eras for park and rides

Cites in­crease in theft com­plaints from con­stituents

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

Re­cently, County Com­mis­sioner Amanda Ste­wart (D) has re­ceived com­plaints about cit­i­zens hav­ing their rims stolen off of their ve­hi­cles by a per­son or group of peo­ple.

There is no ev­i­dence of who is steal­ing rims at the Mat­ta­woman Park and Ride Bus Stop, Ste­wart said. With no cam­eras in the area cur­rently, there is no way to tell who is do­ing what.

But Ste­wart wants to change that. She has asked her staff, she said, to look into what needs to be done to in­stall cam­eras in park and ride ar­eas to find clues, and po­ten­tially pre­vent, crimes like this from hap­pen­ing in the fu­ture.

This has been an is­sue for a while, Ste­wart said, and the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion said it is the county’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­stall cam­eras in park and ride ar­eas once the lots are turned over to the county.

“So I’ve asked staff to look at the is­sue, look at the park­ing lots and come back with a brief­ing on the crime, what we can do and the fi­nan­cial im­pact,” Ste­wart said.

The brief­ing should be within the next two weeks, Ste­wart said.

Putting cam­eras in park­ing lots could po­ten­tially be a great help to the the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Ste­wart said. Not only would they be able to iden­tify who is com­mit­ting crimes in these ar­eas, but the pres­ence of cam­eras would de­ter peo­ple from com­mit­ting crimes in the first place.

“Peo­ple know that nor­mally cam­eras will de­ter peo­ple from do­ing stuff,” Ste­wart said. “We have some cam­eras that have been used in the past where we’ve had con­vic­tions at the [St. Charles] mall. I’m hop­ing that it would de­ter peo­ple but the po­lice could also use it.”

County Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) said he sup­ports Ste­wart’s ini­tia­tive and, re­ally, any se­cu­rity ini­tia­tives that could make Charles County a safer place. Se­cu­rity cam­eras are a “sign of the times,” he said, and would only help Charles County keep pace with many other ju­ris­dic­tions.

“It’s some­thing I would def­i­nitely sup­port. Tech­nol­ogy ex­ists, and not only would it re­duce petty rob­beries that [Ste­wart] is re­fer­ring to, but I think it would present an over­all feel­ing of safety,” Robin­son said.

There have not been many com­plaints from peo­ple in District 1, where Robin­son rep­re­sents, be­cause the area is more rural un­like Ste­wart’s District 3. Ste­wart’s district has more bus stops, he said, but there have been com­plaints, over­all, about se­cu­rity in those ar­eas.

“I tend to hear com­plaints in the more rural parts of the county than the Wal­dorf area. She would be more likely to re­ceive those type of com­plaints,” Robin­son said. “But I en­dorse in­creas­ing se­cu­rity for all of our park and rides.”

Diane Richard­son, public in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the sher­iff’s of­fice, said the of­fice is open to us­ing cam­eras in these ar­eas in the fu­ture. The sher­iff’s of­fice would “gladly” meet with Ste­wart to dis­cuss the is­sue.

“We would gladly sit down with her to dis­cuss how we cur­rently use the cam­eras we al­ready have and ex­plore ways in which we could ex­pand their use and ad­di­tional cam­eras, should we ob­tain any,” Richard­son said.

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