Vermont Town Puts Cameras on Exterior of Public Buildings

The Bellows Falls trustees have approved the system, which will plant up to 16 wireless security cameras throughout the village. Most of the cameras will be placed on village property or on private property with the consent of the property owner.

The department also needs to put an antenna on the roof of Town Hall, as it is one of the highest points in the village.

A router and one of three pieces of recording equipment will also be placed in an office in Town Hall.

The Selectboard approved the move three-to-one. Leslie Goldman voted against approving the cameras.

Selectboard Chairman Lamont Barnett also said, for the record, that he would have rejected the request.

"To come out of my store and know that five cameras are looking at me. It creeps me out," Barnett said. "It doesn't strike me as a good direction for the community."

Goldman engaged Bellows Falls Police Chief Keith Clark in a series of questions concerning the surveillance system.

"Do we have enough crime that you need to watch the community at all times?" Goldman asked Clark.

Clark answered: "Everyone should be concerned for their safety."

"Are you telling me I should worry about being assaulted every time I walk through the Square? How often are things happening in this town?" Goodman asked.

"We have vandalism here every day," said Clark.

"There is a difference between community safety and government sanctioned cameras for its citizens," said Goldman.

Stefan Golec said the surveillance system is not made up of "spy cameras."

"It is far from it. It is electronic monitoring," he said. "I think it is a step forward for this community as a whole."

Clark said the camera that will be placed on Town Hall will be able to move 270 degrees. It will be one of five cameras that will be focused on activity in The Square.

The cameras will record all activity and will be monitored 24 hours a day, Clark said previously.

The Bellows Falls Police Department won a $98,000 federal grant that will pay for the system. Clark said the equipment and installation is going out to bid, and he said he did not yet know what the antenna that will be going on top of Town Hall will look like.

"Some are small. Others are trapezoidal," said Clark. "It has to be aesthetically pleasing."

The department hopes to have the system in place by this summer.