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Pawleys Island: Town considers cameras at beach accesses

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Less than a year after cameras were installed to read the license numbers of vehicles entering the town of Pawleys Island officials are looking at surveillance cameras for the public beach accesses.

“Do we need cameras at the south end parking lot?” Council Member Sarah Zimmerman asked after reviewing a list of incidents reported to police in July. There were two car break-ins and two reports of “suspicious activity” at the popular beach access.

“I would like cameras all over the island,” Police Chief Mike Fanning said.

He told Town Council the city of Georgetown has over 100 cameras and the town of Surfside Beach has cameras at all its beach accesses.

“That’s something we may want to consider,” Council Member Mike Adams said.

The town installed license-plate cameras on the North and South Causeway following a series of break-ins at vacant beach houses in 2013. The cameras helped police catch an Horry County man who allegedly exposed himself to a child riding a bike on the island earlier this year. They have also led to citations for vehicles with suspended license tags.

Fanning said the number of break-ins fell from 16 in June and July 2013 to 10 in the same period this year. The visibility of town police officers on patrol is also a factor in that decline, he said.

“It’s just a thought,” Zimmerman said of the surveillance cameras.

Mayor Bill Otis said one problem with those cameras is the time it takes to review the footage; time an officer could be on patrol. And Fanning said installing the cameras on Pawleys Island might be complicated by the lack of wireless Internet service.

Otis asked Fanning to meeting with Ryan Fabbri, the assistant administrator, and come up with a cost estimate.

At the same time, Fanning will be looking into the cost of replacing the department’s all-terrain vehicle. The frame rusted through and the wheels actually fell off while he was riding it, he said.

The ATV is rinsed after use and stored in a shed, but hasn’t lasted any longer than its predecessor, just four years. “That does seem like a very short lifespan to me,” Adams said.

The replacement cost is $4,000 to $5,000, but there is no money allocated in this year’s budget. (The town had nearly $8 million in hand at the start of the fiscal year on Jan. 1.) Fanning is talking to other agencies about their ATVs.

Without an ATV, police can’t drive south of Pawleys Pier. That will curtail the beach patrol and some other activities. But he said he could wait until the next fiscal year.

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