Myrtle Beach city surveillance camera project nears completion

Close to 800 cameras are being added around Myrtle Beach city’s intersections and beach accesses, such as this one at the corner of Kings Highway and Mr. Joe White Avenue.
Close to 800 cameras are being added around Myrtle Beach city’s intersections and beach accesses, such as this one at the corner of Kings Highway and Mr. Joe White Avenue. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

More than 800 cameras should be in place watching over Myrtle Beach’s busy intersections, streets and beach accesses as the city’s surveillance project nears completion.

Just two more cameras need to go up before the fourth and final phase of the project is complete. Lt. Joey Crosby, Myrtle Beach police spokesman, was hesitant to pinpoint exactly when the project will be completely finished, but said within the coming weeks all the eyes in the sky will likely be able to see.

The $2.1 million-dollar project, which started last spring, will be ongoing after the last two cameras are installed as the connectivity process linking the cameras’ eyes back to dispatchers will still be in progress.

“The camera going up on a pole is just one part of the process,” Crosby said.

The four-phase project was slated to finish at the end of 2015, but was slowed by connectivity issues, severe weather and waiting for permits to come through for installation in the final phase, which involves cameras going up at busy Myrtle Beach intersections.

In the installation process, a camera is added to a pole and then connectivity is worked out to ensure the camera’s feed is transmitting live to the Myrtle Beach dispatch center, where dispatchers can view the footage in real-time, and notify and aid police with the latest information as police respond to a traffic crash or crime scene.

Project workers may then go back and tweak the angle of a camera to make sure its eye can capture the images police need from the area it’s watching over, Crosby said.

“We’re just making sure the cameras are working properly so that way there’s no disruption in service,” Crosby said.

Cameras in phases one through three of the project were added to Myrtle Beach’s beach accesses, along Ocean Boulevard, Kings Highway and several downtown area backstreets, such as Flagg Street and Withers Drive.

They’ve already proven their value.

Lt. Joey Crosby, spokesman with Myrtle Beach police

“They’ve already proven their value,” Crosby said.

Cameras have helped nab suspects in several incidents, including a 9th Avenue area shooting and an arson last fall.

Most recently, cameras grabbed images of a suspect’s truck leaving the scene of an assault and robbery that happened in a Myrtle Beach hotel parking garage at 1200 S. Ocean Blvd. on April 8, and those photos helped lead to the suspect’s arrest, Crosby said.

“Those pictures proved instrumental in that case,” Crosby said.

Cameras in the fourth and final phase of the project will keep an eye on various busy intersections around the city, capturing traffic crashes and helping police study traffic patterns to determine how car crashes happen.

These cameras will not be used to issue speeding tickets, Crosby said.

Although the connectivity process is ongoing in phase four, many of the cameras are up and functioning and aided police as they watched over runners of the Myrtle Beach Marathon on March 5.

“They were vital to us during that particular event, because in previous events we relied solely on the officers to tell us what was occurring at various intersections, and at this year’s marathon we were able to monitor traffic flow, monitor the runners and make sure the runners were safe,” Crosby said.

More cameras could be added around town in the future, Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach city spokesman, said.

The city may also ask new Myrtle Beach area businesses if they would consider installing security cameras and allow that footage to link into the city’s system, Kruea said.

“We’re excited about the project. I think it will have positive long-term effects for us,” Kruea said.

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend