More officers, surveillance cameras in the works for Project Jackson

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Sep. 20, 2013

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- Walker Posey is quick to tell you that he's a big fan of Project Jackson.

"I think Project Jackson will be a huge boost for our local economy," says that funeral director and embalmer and Posey Funeral Directors in North Augusta.

The public-private venture to bring the Augusta GreenJackets, a hotel, and more to the North Augusta Riverfront has recently cleared some big hurdles.

"The great thing, in my mind, is that it's all public space and that our entire community can use it and that it can benefit all our citizens," says Posey.

But with thousands of new visitors, will they be safe or will criminals try to cash in too?

"I think the police presence in the town center and Hammond's Ferry and Project Jackson will be key."

In North Augusta's proposed budget for 2014, City Administrator Todd Glover already has policing Project Jackson in mind.

"We will take measures to increase public safety," Glover says. "As we get the growth here, we want our Public Safety to be able to keep up with the growth."

Under the proposal, two more officers will be hired next year. Two more will also be hired in 2015, 2016, and 2017 too. Glover says a new precinct will also be installed as part of the new development.

"You know, we haven't really gotten too deep into it, but it may actually be some different types of patrols, either foot patrols, bike patrol, things like that, golf carts," says the city administrator.

Glover says there's also plans to put high quality cameras all over the place. He says they'll be along the river, on the Greeneway, on public buildings, in public parks, and on some roads. Glover says the cameras will be placed near the development and in other parts of North Augusta too. He says officers can watch the camera feeds live, or they can go back and watch what's been recorded.

"I haven't necessarily heard from people that [Lake Olmstead Stadium] is unsafe, but I think this will just be a more welcoming type of atmosphere," Glover says.

For those who may see the cameras as an invasion by 'Big Brother,' Posey has a response.

"I mean, if you're not doing anything wrong, there's nothing to worry about," he says.

Glover says theoretically it will be almost impossible to commit a crime on public property in North Augusta without having your picture or your license plate's picture taken. Glover says the cameras also have night-vision.

In addition to the efforts to police Project Jackson, North Augusta Department of Public Safety will also soon commission a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. Lieutenant Tim Thornton says the vehicle was obtained through the government buy-back program, and it'll officially be unveiled next week.

Lt. Thornton says officers are still converting the vehicle into a more city-friendly setup. It previously served with soldiers in Afghanistan.

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