Every incorporated area in the county has a surveillance system in place that helps law enforcement thoroughly cover an area with limited staff.
Growing use of surveillance video cameras in Carbon County is allowing law enforcement to have an unblinking eye over nearly all incorporated areas, including Helper, Price, and East Carbon City (ECC). Although many of them are difficult to see, they are there and because most of them can see through the dark of night, they have been able to help police fight not only vandalism, but also many other kinds of problems that arise.
Nearly all the cameras in the county are located on city property, and according the ECC mayor Orlando LaFontaine, who has recently had an extensive camera system installed in ECC, "If you committed a crime and there's a warrant out for you, we'll be watching." Although he adds that there is no central control room for the system, he does get reports from the city police on whats going on.
In Price and Helper, their systems are not as vast as ECC, but according to Helper police chief Trent Anderson, are still very effective. In Helper Anderson detailed that with the new wireless technology that the system employs, it is possible to watch what any of the cameras can see from any police patrol car. This same technology is also available in Price and ECC.
The cameras do, however, have limitations, both with their technology, as well as legalities. Technically problems with the cameras is that for them to be of any use, they need to be able to have high night vision capabilities, which makes them expensive. "It's expensive to increase the 'lumes,' (in the cameras) which show the quality of vision at night," said Price police chief Aleck Shilaos.
Legally, government surveillance cameras have been defined as legal when they can see what a person could see in the same location. There is however, some room for lenses that increase their imaging ability as well as things like night vision. None of the cameras used by local law enforcement can record the infrared spectrum, or sound as these options typically require a court order and because most of them are looking over broad areas, these options would not be much use.
It is also common that police use other private camera systems, because many local businesses employ them and while they might not be able to access the video on demand, it can usually be obtained as a recording.
In reality it is difficult to go out in public and not be caught on camera, and while the police might not be the only ones watching, they have made use of the technology and will likely continue to upgrade and improve their systems.
"We have a lot of cameras," said LaFontaine. "We're taking care of our properties."