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February 23, 2014

N.H. could see more public cameras

Officials weigh privacy against security

Last April, security cameras played a key role in catching the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

Some Southern New Hampshire towns are considering some of that technology.

Salem, Londonderry and Plaistow could soon be have security cameras monitoring public properties. The Legislature is considering a bill to allow cameras at park-and-ride lots around the state. This would include the one at Exit 2 off Interstate 93 in Salem, and those off Exits 4 and 5 off I-93 in Londonderry.

In Plaistow, officials are considering a proposal which could put cameras outside public properties - town hall, the public safety complex and recreation fields.

Across the region, local officials and leaders have mixed opinions on the possibility of cameras surveying their towns.

“I think it’s appropriate in the park-and-ride lots,” Salem Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride said. “Beyond that, I’m not sure.”

Most park-and-ride lots already have surveillance cameras set at low resolution, as required by state law, but they do not capture perfect images of a person’s face or a license plate. If House Bill 1250 is passed by the Legislature, the camera resolution would be adjusted so faces and license plates would be recorded.

In Derry, cameras monitor Alexander Carr Park, Hood Park and the Derry Municipal Center.

“They serve a great purpose,” Derry police Chief Edward Garone said. “In some cases, they’ve had an evidentiary purpose. We also know they have served as a deterrent to prevent crimes.”

Garone said his officers don’t constantly monitor the cameras. Instead, they review the tape if there is reported suspicious activity.

He said officials from other towns have spoken to him about the benefits of the cameras.

“They want to know how we use it, how much it costs us,” he said. “But it’s worked really well for us.”

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