Big Sandy City Council Installs Public Cameras
May 3, 2023
Last week ten cameras were installed around town. According to Mayor Shaud Schwarzbach, four cameras were placed in city hall. Two cameras are at the rest area, looking towards the parking area. "We were going to put it by the doors for traffic coming in and out of the building, but the hang was too low, and we're worried about the cameras getting damaged." There is also a couple of cameras on the city shop. There wasn't any there before--nothing at all. We have a camera on our water fill station and one on the front door of the fire and ambulance building.
Law enforcement can use the cameras, but that is not the intent, "never has been the intent." According to the mayor, the ones on Main Street are just, you know, for the public. We hope to add them to our webpage as well. So that people from out of town can see what's going on in Main Street Big Sandy, like a parade. Law enforcement can have access.
According to Sherriff Deputy Dennis Hale, the last time cameras were used in law enforcement was when a chainsaw episode happened at the beginning of Main Street. Cameras were used in that episode, but it's never been used otherwise.
Cameras can only be used in public places. Personal cameras can be placed on private property, and businesses can put their own up too.
In the past, adding cameras to the main street created some issues and concerns. Cameras cannot be pointed into private property but are only used in public settings. It is illegal for any person to take a picture on private property unless the owner agrees.
The following is the actual wording concerning the use of cameras.
"Surreptitious Visual Observation Or Recordation -- Place Of Residence -- Public Place -- Exceptions
45-5-223. Surreptitious visual observation or recordation -- place of residence -- public place -- exceptions. (1) A person commits the offense of surreptitious visual observation or recordation in a place of residence if the person purposely or knowingly hides, waits, or otherwise loiters in person or by means of a remote electronic device within or in the vicinity of a private dwelling house, apartment, or other place of residence for the purpose of:
(a) watching, gazing at, or looking upon any occupant in the residence in a surreptitious manner without the occupant's knowledge; or
(b) by means of an electronic device surreptitiously observing or recording the visual image of any occupant in the residence without the occupant's knowledge.
(2) A person commits the offense of surreptitious visual observation or recordation in public if the person purposely or knowingly observes or records a visual image of the sexual or intimate parts of another person in a public place without the other person's knowledge when the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
(3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to a law enforcement officer, an agent or employee of an insurer, or a private investigator licensed pursuant to 37-60-301 or to any person engaged in fraud detection, prevention, or prosecution pursuant to 2-15-2015 or 39-71-211 while the officer, agent, employee, or private investigator is acting in the course and scope of employment for legitimate investigative purposes.
(4) A person convicted of an offense under subsection (1) or (2) shall be fined an amount not to exceed $500 or be incarcerated in the county jail for a term not to exceed 6 months or both. Upon a second conviction, a person shall be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000 or be incarcerated for a term not to exceed 1 year, or both. Upon a third or subsequent conviction, a person shall be fined an amount not to exceed $10,000 or be incarcerated for a term not to exceed 5 years, or both.