Topsham selectmen OK new police station surveillance system

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TOPSHAM — The Board of Selectmen on Nov. 5 unanimously approved the purchase of a new surveillance system for the police station.

The existing system, which dates to the building’s constructed in 2007, was repaired four years ago and has again become problematic, Town Manager Rich Roedner said last week.

Aging technology is one issue, along with the fact the system is proprietary – it is considered a single unit, as opposed to having components that can be repaired or replaced as needed.

Faced with two proposals – buying another proprietary system that costs $18,000, or a component-based modular unit estimated at $9,000 that can be installed by Police Department staff and has pieces that can be replaced, repaired or updated as needed – the town chose the latter option.

“It can be installed in phases, which could bring the cost down more in year one, and then expanded as need be to fully replace what we currently have,” Roedner explained in an email last week.

“In the long run it’s going to save taxpayers some money, because with a component system, if one part of that fails, we can replace that one part,” Police Chief Chris Lewis said Nov. 6. “Right now, we can’t. … Only one company can repair it, because it’s their equipment, it’s their licensing.”

Any repair shop will be able to work on the new system, he explained.

With the current system failing, the department has been “putting fingers in the proverbial dike,” Lewis added. “And pretty soon, we’re going to run out of fingers.”

He noted that the department will never be without a system, “because we’re going to create a backup on top of a backup.”

The system captures audio and video from all of the department’s interview and booking rooms, and video from the front lobby, Lewis said. He hopes installation will be complete before the beginning of December.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Aging Police Department surveillance technology and difficulty making repairs has prompted Topsham to purchase a new system.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.