Ridgeway looking for ways to increase security

Lucas Vance Staff Writer

November 23, 2013

RIDGEWAY — In the wake of hiring a part-time police officer, Ridgeway’s town council is still looking for ways to increase security.

Malcolm Little accepted the position after the Nov. 14 town council meeting. Little retired from the New York Police Department, worked in Chester and is currently working in an investigative division in Charlotte.

Mayor Charlene Herring was pleased to announce the hiring of Little.

“I’m really glad Malcolm (Little) has accepted this position because he comes in with a lot of experience,” she said. “Now we will all be able to rest a little bit easier.”

Ridgeway had been a one-cop town for just over a month, following the resignation of police chief James Ashford. The town had been operating with the services provided solely from part-time officer, Donald Johnson. Johnson was working extended hours to make up the difference.

Ridgeway made the switch to two part-time officers, as opposed to one full-time, because there was not enough money in the general fund to pay the salary.

“Our budget was tight then and we (council) decided to go part-time but we will continue to look at the budget,” Herring said.

Herring said that Little would only be brought in as a part-time officer for now, and that council would need to look at the whole scope of the budget before hiring a full-time officer.

“The funds that we have are in our savings and have been put there for capital improvements or when we have an emergency,” Herring noted. “It would be my desire to have a full-time officer.”

During his police report to council, Johnson stated that the police department had received some new equipment including portable traffic barricades, flashers and micro digital cameras.

“This is a new technology that clips on to a shirt and will record voices and video of an incident,” Johnson said.

The two micro digital cameras were provided free to the Ridgeway Police Department, but Johnson reminded council about a previous unfulfilled request from October’s town council meeting to provide a computer and copier/fax machine for the police department.

“This is good equipment but we’ve got to have the computer to go with it to upload the videos,” he noted.

Following the police report, Councilwoman Belva Bush asked what was being done to assist the police department.

“There have been items in Donald’s (Johnson) requests that we have fulfilled,” Herring replied. “We have fixed the items designated to the police car, we just have not bought a computer.”

Councilman Donald Prioleau recommended that council look into the purchase of a laptop for the police department.

“A laptop would be better than a desktop computer so that the information can be accessed in any police car,” he noted.

In an effort to increase security, council reviewed three bids to install surveillance equipment in the downtown area. The funds would be taken from the general fund.

“Even with two part-time officers or one full-time officer there is still a need for better surveillance downtown,” Herring said. “We now have more merchants downtown, more shoppers downtown and there is just more traffic downtown.”

The surveillance equipment reviewed would be headquartered in the police station and would record for three months before beginning to tape over itself.

“It would be good to have surveillance at our police station and another means of supporting our merchants and citizens,” Herring added.

Core Digital was the lowest bid at $1,669.20, Capture Surveillance bid $2,410.70 and Electronic Systems Company bid $4,704.25. The bid prices included installation but not upkeep or maintenance.

Councilman Russ Brown asked council if the Town of Ridgeway was at a point where it needed surveillance.

“I think we need it because we don’t have enough police protection and to have people on camera can help us,” Herring answered. “The cost is not a lot and truly we can’t put a price on our town’s safety.”

Seeing the information for the first time, Brown asked for more time to review the information before putting it to a vote.

“I just think it is overkill,” he added.

Council agreed to table the issue until the next scheduled meeting on Dec. 12.