The Newnan (Ga.) Police Department has expanded its patrolling capabilities by installing surveillance cameras in high-crime neighborhoods and at busy intersections. The technology has helped the department gather evidence of criminal activity and has helped officers locate vehicles associated with crimes.

Last March, the Police Department issued a request for proposals for a camera system that could be used to monitor public spaces. The department wanted a system that could transmit live images as well as archive them for future reference.

In June, the department contracted with city-owned Newnan Utilities to install surveillance cameras on utility poles throughout the city. Additionally, the department purchased surveillance software from locally based A-Plus Technologies.

The utility worked with the vendor to coordinate the camera and software installation. Each camera is connected to the utility's fiber optic network and feeds one digital image per second to a server, which is leased to the police department by the utility. Each camera's images are stored on the server for 14 days, after which they disappear unless officers archive them on CDs.

The utility installed 22 cameras, mounting them on utility poles and camouflaging them with domes that resemble streetlights. It installed domes on four other utility poles so the cameras can be moved depending on criminal activity rates in different areas. Because the cameras are camouflaged, subjects do not know when their activities are being recorded. The police department pays a monthly fee to the utility to move the cameras and to maintain the server.

Police officers can view live and archived images using Internet browsers. Protected by usernames and passwords, the images are searchable by date, time, location and camera.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Newnan cameras have collected evidence that led to one arrest on drug-related charges since June. “I used [the system] one time to observe an accident that occurred, and we have viewed [the images] at different times to find vehicles that we had a lookout on,” says Sergeant Charles Stapler. “If we have a theft or something at a store, I can look to see if I can see the vehicle or anything going on in that area.”