Deputies: City needs to prioritize security cameras to make Riverwalk safer

Monday, October 7, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says they have a plan to make the Riverwalk a safer place but they're still waiting for the money.

It all goes back to July 4, 2016 when two people started shooting after the fireworks show. Days after that shooting, the downtown development authority said installing security cameras was a "priority."

They said that didn't happen because the city added a precinct and the sheriff's office decided to add cameras of their own.

There is one at a Riverwalk entrance, but the sheriff's office says they need more.

“I think there needs to be more cameras down here for sure," said Sarah Nichols and James Harris.

Sarah and James walk along the Riverwalk daily. It's a family affair, but safety is a concern.

That's why the Richmond County Sheriff's Office added community safety officers to patrol. They even took money out of their own budget to install cameras.

"We have five of the nine blocks covered so we think that's a pretty good start and our big thrust is trying to actually get a comprehensive downtown camera system," said Chief Deputy Patrick Clayton with the RCSO.

It's a vision he and the sheriff have been trying to make happen for almost 7 years. But Chief Deputy Clayton says there's no funding from commission to do it.

“And I don't know what the holdup is. A camera program like this would be a game-changer," said Clayton.

The plan is to have cameras stretching from Reynolds to Greene Street with a deputy watching 24/7.

"It's just going to make us better, it's going to make downtown safer and also once everybody starts realizing there's a lot of cameras around they will curtail their disorderly conduct," said Clayton.

Clayton says it's something the city needs to prioritize.

"We both want to see growth here but again the security has to be there to keep up with that. We're just asking for them to make the same investment they are making in other things," said Clayton.

"It's just sad because I believe the city should be behind the sheriff's office and behind everybody's safety and they aren't doing that so people aren't going to feel as safe around here so they need to get on it," said Sarah Nichols and James Harris.

Clayton says he's been talking to the chairman of the public safety committee Dennis Williams about the cameras.

We spoke to Williams over the phone. He says he's interested in the plan and will be presenting it to the commission in the next few weeks.

He says the hard part is going to be finding the money to pay for the cameras. The sheriff's office estimates it would cost a quarter of a million dollars for the cameras.

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