There hasn’t been a functioning police surveillance system on Daniel Island since 2018. As both a precautionary and reactionary response to deter crime on the island, a heightened security measure is in the process of installation.
Last month, the Daniel Island Town Association (DITA) and the Charleston Police Department reached an agreement on three new cameras that will monitor the island’s three access points. The more sophisticated software will feature automatic license plate reader (ALPR) technology.
ALPR captures an image of a license plate and cross checks it with the police department's database. The technology can also detect a suspended driver’s license, overdue parking citations, car thefts, Amber Alerts and fugitive-type scenarios.
At a City of Charleston Public Safety Committee meeting on Dec. 14, DITA agreed to pay for all costs associated with installation and leasing for the first two years of operation. The city agreed to fund the annual maintenance cost for an additional two years provided that the police department is satisfied with the service and the cameras are providing useful information.
The agenda item received unanimous approval from the public safety committee. A day later, on Dec. 15, it was affirmed by Charleston City Council in the passing of the committee’s report.
Daniel Island Community Fund will cover DITA’s initial purchase and installation costs which include three cameras from Flock Safety at approximately $16,500 total, as well as an annual subscription of the software for $15,000.
The cameras will be installed at all of the on-ramps to Daniel Island — the intersections of Fairchild Street and River Landing Drive, Island Park and Seven Farms drives, and Fairchild Street and Daniel Island Drive.
“We are so fortunate to have such a low crime rate on Daniel Island,” said Jane Baker, president of the Daniel Island Property Owners' Association. “... If we have people from off-island coming on the island looking for opportunities (to commit crimes), we want to try to deter that and we think the cameras are the best way to do that.”
Concerns of reinstalling cameras, since last installed in 2015, were raised at the beginning of 2020 by Baker and several residents, including Charleston City Councilwoman Marie Delcioppo.
“This is an excellent example of a public/private partnership and I cannot thank DITA enough for their wonderful contribution to our community's safety,” said Delcioppo, who serves as the District 1 representative for Daniel Island. She currently serves on the Traffic and Transportation Committee and previously served as president of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association from 2017-19.
“I think it will help our officers be able to solve issues in a much more timely fashion on Daniel Island,” Delcioppo added.
The most abundant and pressing criminal acts on the island recently have been motor vehicle break-ins and thefts. Last summer, over the course of June and July, there was an uptick in such incidents, particularly at single-family residences.
On June 19-20, there were three motor vehicle thefts on Daniel Island involving golf carts that were stolen from garages located in apartment complexes. On July 10, a home was targeted when the perpetrator entered a rear door of a garage and stole multiple items, including licenses, credit cards, car keys and keys to a storage unit, according to a report in The Daniel Island News on July 29.
“I think technology can be a forceful applier. This is an example of that. It’s a win-win,” said Luther Reynolds, Charleston Police Department’s chief of police.
Reynolds said due to the rapid population growth near Daniel Island and Clements Ferry Road, the police department doesn’t have the staff and facilities to have an ideal presence. However, he’s thankful and hopeful that by using advancements such as ALPR it will enhance the department’s outreach.
A contract among all of the parties involved was ratified Jan. 1. The surveillance will be piloted until December 2022, when the city will decide whether to continue or discontinue the service.