Thieves, vandals and crooks of all other ilk take note: Every spot of the Butte Civic Center and nearby areas will soon be under video surveillance.
There have been 16 cameras inside since 2012 but only four outside. That will soon change — real soon if commissioners OK a bid to supply and mount 16 additional motion-sensor cameras outside and one more indoors for just under $12,000.
The tab will include training for those who use the system, which can accommodate additional cameras if needed.
“We are getting the 16 new ones for the outside, for a total of 20, that will completely cover all of the building,” Civic Center Manager Bill Melvin said Tuesday. “We will be able to record anyone who enters the building.”
The recent bus-hostage situation outside the Civic Center, which ended peacefully after an hours-long standoff with police, didn’t prompt the added surveillance. Nor did any other single incident.
“It’s just part of the life we live in now,” Melvin said. “It’s all about security.”
The area is one of the busiest in town, given crowds the Civic Center draws, the Town Pump next door, Stokes and other stores across the street and the bus station just north.
Some high-speed chases with police have started or ended near the Civic Center, too.
Of the four existing outdoor cameras, one is above the back entrance to the Civic Center Annex, there is one on each corner of the front entrance and one on the south side of the building.
The new cameras will cover parts of the parking lots, too, especially the one on the south side. The existing one on the south primarily shoots up and down the length of the sidewalk next to the building.
The ones inside have come in handy at times. Not long after they were installed in 2012, Melvin said, they were used to identify someone who purposefully pulled a fire alarm when there was no fire.
The outside ones have pointed out some interesting info, too — not all of it criminal. For example, lots of people checking out cars displayed outside during the Mile High Motors sale in November came after hours, Melvin said, when salespeople were gone.
The additional surveillance is not a new idea.
A board member brought it up four or five years ago, and Melvin said he’s included it in every annual budget request since then. The request finally got a nod last August when the current county budget was approved.
“This year, Chief Executive (Dave) Palmer decided it was reasonable,” he said.
Butte police have been able to solve some hit-and-runs and other criminal activity with help from surveillance cameras outside of Town Pumps, including the one just south of the Civic Center.
So the ones being added to the Civic Center are welcome news, said Undersheriff George Skuletich.
“They are another tool we can use to follow-up on criminal behavior,” he said.
Four vendors bid on supplying the cameras, Melvin said, all of them local. Complete Communications & Surveillance submitted a low bid of $11,984, and commissioners could OK that Wednesday night.
If they do, it’s possible the new cameras will be installed in time for the Class AA state basketball tournament at the Civic Center March 7, 8 and 9, Melvin said.