To catch a criminal: Naples neighborhood to install video cameras

Should Royal Harbor be allowed to install video cameras to monitor license plate numbers of drivers?

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Video from NBC-2

— Cameras are becoming a fixture in east Naples Bay neighborhoods.

But the stars of that footage are more likely to find themselves in a police line-up than on TV.

A Naples neighborhood will mount cameras on public streets to monitor the license plate numbers of drivers passing by.

Naples City Council on Wednesday approved the installation of a video monitoring system that would record all vehicles coming and going from Royal Harbor, a non-gated, upscale east Naples Bay neighborhood.

The right-of-way permit application was submitted by the Royal Harbor Association as a way to reduce the risk of crime in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood group plans to install pole-mounted video equipment and software to monitor vehicles driving on Marlin Drive at Sandpiper Street and on Dolphin Road at Sandpiper Street.

The monitoring system mirrors one approved by the council for the Port Royal Property Owners Association on Gordon Drive in 2007.

Terry Forshier, president of the Royal Harbor Association, said the cameras are meant to deter crime in the neighborhood and provide evidence should a crime occur.

“It will make us feel safer, but it will also be a good tool for the police,” Forshier said.

The community association will pay for installation and maintaining the cameras, not Naples’ taxpayers.

Royal Harbor has experienced several break-ins in the past year, Forshier said, with thieves taking air-conditioners units, storm shutters and a gun collection.

As part of the agreement, all footage from the cameras would go to a private contractor, listed as Beaumont Communication Inc. in East Naples.

No footage would be available to the neighborhood association. Police could only use it as evidence if a crime occurred.

The system will record license plates on a 30-day cycle, meaning after that 30 days, the information would be erased if there was no criminal activity.

Addressing a question of privacy concerns, City Attorney Bob Pritt said monitoring a public street is not an invasion of privacy. He cited the rise of red light camera use as an example of that practice.

Forshier said the cameras could be coming to Royal Harbor just in time.

“During the summer, our population is halved,” he said. “We just want to be prepared.”

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