Council Buys Cameras As Part Of Comprehensive Crime-Fighting Plan

HAGERSTOWN – A detective with the city’s police department is speaking out about the vast expansion of a five-year camera project designed to address crime trends in certain pockets of the city.

Detective Nick Varner serves as the project manager for the department’s camera program. Varner is a 15-year veteran of the agency.

Last week, the City Council approved a motion to add an additional 115 street-level cameras, bringing the city’s total to 315. Those cameras plus the fiber infrastructure needed to connect the technology transferred $115,192 out of the Capital Improvement Project, the last purchase in the city’s west-end expansion.

Bethel and Joanthan Streets
Photo: Ryan Hedrick

“Our program isn’t designed to cover the entire city with these cameras,” Varner said. “We took trends over the last five years from our crime analysts and we created heat maps. These maps describe areas over time periods that show where the increased crime is occurring in the city.”

As technology continues to evolve in law enforcement, there are many reasons why camera systems are critical to day-to-day operations. Varner said accountability is probably the biggest factor.

“Whether it be accountability of our witnesses, victims, or officers, there is an overall accountability that the camera system gives you because it’s non-bias and there’s no way that it’s not accurate,” said Varner.

Cameras canvass every major intersection in the city giving police the ability to conduct real-time surveillance and offer immediate response to major incidents.

In January, police used the city’s comprehensive camera system on multiple occasions to solve two downtown shootings involving Tyrell Davron Anderson Hope Lynn. Police were able to match the pair’s silver Acura to multiple locations where shots had been fired.

N. Prospect and W. Church
Photo: Ryan Hedrick

“We use the cameras on almost every major case that happens in the city in one way or another,” Varner said. “If the incident happens in the area of the camera, we have immediate data on what transpired. If the crime is not in the area of the camera, we track the criminal’s path to through the city.”

“Nothing replaces the hard-working, dedicated, police officers we have in Hagerstown, our goal is to offer and implement strategies that can influence crime trends in an area.”