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Past unpleasant experiences of living in a city with traffic cameras moved local business owner Loryhl Davis to share her security camera system reservations with the Salmon City Council.

On July 17 she told the council the invasion of privacy issues raised by security cameras is a source of great contention and one of the reasons she moved from her Canadian home to Salmon. Davis said the photos taken of vehicles and license plates are violations of this country’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. She said the cameras violate due process rights and that in many cases the camera venders are given a say in local traffic rules and policies by way of the camera contracts.

Davis said it has been brought to her attention that the purpose behind local use of surveillance cameras is for the safety of children at the Skate Park and destruction of property on Island Park and at City Park. She said in those cases security cameras would be a good thing but if there is a plan to use them as a way of increasing revenue for the town through fines for traffic violations, that is not a good thing. She quoted statistics that show a 15 percent increase in rear ending accidents where cameras are installed at intersections. Davis also said at least a dozen cities in nine states have banned the use of traffic cameras

She said a petition has been started and it already shows that a lot of local people are opposed to the installation of cameras on Main Street or at the traffic lights.

Councilman Ken Hill told Davis there has been no discussion whatsoever of stop light cameras or red light cameras. He said what has been discussed is installing security cameras in front of and behind City Hall and at the Sacajawea Center as well as at the parks.

Salmon City Police Sergeant Terry Stratton was called on by the council to explain the city’s proposed use of a camera security system. He said the plan is to place cameras at City Park which has been the scene of some aggravated batteries and is where vandals cause from $5,000 to $8,000 in damage a year. Stratton said they would also like to put cameras at the front and rear of City Hall. There has also been discussion of placing a camera on the King’s Department Store building. Stratton said he didn’t know if that will actually be done but does know there won’t be traffic cams. He pointed out these would not be the first cameras in Salmon. He said Saveway has a complete camera security system inside and outside the store and there is also a camera at the Burger King parking lot which has been useful in Highway 28/Highway 93 intersection accidents. Stratton said at times the footage has been advantageous in investigations. As to the current rumors he commented, “We’re not running license plates. We’re not using them to spy on you. That’s a bunch of conjecture that I don’t believe is warranted.”

Stratton said the camera footage is not something that will be constantly monitored however, when there is an incident it can be rewound to that time frame and reviewed.

Stratton was thanked for the clarification.

Later in the meeting the proposal to purchase a wireless camera security system involving cameras, a video screen, a wireless Wifi transmitter to network the video cameras and the labor to install the system came to a vote and was unanimously approved. The $6,765 expenditure will be listed as a Capital Investment. The system is being purchased from Computer Zen in Salmon.
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