Loudon installing surveillance cameras in parks to catch vandals

By ANN KEIL 6 News Reporter

LOUDON (WATE) - The city of Loudon will soon have surveillance cameras installed in its parks. City officials say vandalism has spiked in the last few months.

"There is a huge concern with this park right now with the language and some of the things happening down here," says Mark Harrell, city of Loudon parks and recreation director.

The city will shell out around $3,500. It's spent around $20,000 already cleaning up its five parks.  

"We have about 200 acres of parks in our community," Harrell says.

"Those video cameras would be as good as an eyewitness," says Loudon Police Chief James Webb.

While graffiti and the destruction of property are the more common complaints, Chief Webb says they've also gotten some calls from homeowners living nearby reporting violence.

"We have had a few incidences where there has been some fighting and rough behavior. The types of situations that does not promote a family environment at a park," Webb says.

Harrell and Webb suspect juveniles, but after most instances they have little evidence if any at all.

"With infrared and normal lenses you can protect certain areas day and night without interference," says Loudon Police Officer Kenny DeBoer. 

6 News also spoke with several people in Loudon Thursday about the cameras.

"As a parent with three kids, I kind of like the idea. I'd know my kids are safe, and there will be an eye on them," Ronald Tutterrow says.

"I think it would be a good idea because sometimes there are bad people that run around these parks when there are little kids involved," Brenda Watson says.

"I don't have a problem with the cameras. It's better than having vandalism and those cameras have been used in a lot of different places for good things," Joel Fries says.

Loudon isn't the only town adding cameras in its parks. Lenoir City already has cameras at its pool and maintenance shop, and officials are talking about adding cameras in parks.

Crossville City officials say they're installing cameras in their parks soon, and Oak Ridge already has cameras in some of its parks.