PHILIPSBURG–The long-awaited surveillance–camera system for the Philipsburg area was launched by the Ministry of Justice at Captain Hodge Wharf on Thursday. Phase one of the project allows the police to monitor several key locations in the Philipsburg area.
Governor Eugene Holiday and some members of the Council of Ministers and Parliament were present at the ribbon-cutting.
Minister of Justice Edson Kirindongo and TelEm Chief Financial Officer Helma Etnel signed an agreement on Wednesday for the maintenance and connection of the cameras. The police will provide the officers to monitor the cameras.
Phase one costs Government NAf. 2,000,000 while Government hopes to create business partnerships for the other phases of the project. Budgeted for this year, it covers the Philipsburg area up to and including the roundabouts. Phases two and three, which extend out to cover the entire Dutch side, will get underway next year.
The system will be monitored 24/7 by the Police Force. Informative signs will be placed throughout Philipsburg to warn the public and visitors that cameras are in place and the area is being monitored.
Minister Kirindongo stated in his address, “If we look at the accidents and serious crimes that take place around the world and the role that surveillance cameras have in the investigations of these crimes, I can understand the question ‘only now?’ But don’t forget, Country St. Maarten is six years old. We need space to grow.
“If you take into consideration how the cruise lines score a country on the safety and security level of a country before the cruise lines bring their ships and passengers into that country, you will understand the value of this camera project.
“Having surveillance in Philipsburg gives a feeling of security. Nobody wants to be on camera while he or she is committing a crime. Surveillance cameras prevent crime and vandalism to happen. The camera is not only to keep you safe as a person, but is also a safety for your priorities.”
He closed his speech by stating that the camera system belongs to the population of the island. “Please protect them,” he said.
Prime Minister Marlin said the discussions of getting the camera system up and running for the island had been going on for years.
“For years, there have been talks about getting the project off the ground, but as part of this coalition Member of Parliament Frans Richardson wanted to get this done within the nine months we are in office,” said Marlin. In light of recent crimes in Philipsburg, Government decided to make this project a priority.
United St. Maarten Party (US Party) leader Frans Richardson said, “We are proud today to be able to give the Police Force another tool to be able to fight crime. Surveillance has been spoken about for quite some time, but we were determined to stop the talk and finally get this very important project off the ground.
“Our people and our visitors depend on us to keep them safe. Our Police Force depends on us to give them the tools to keep people safe. This was a priority for the US Party and the Minister when we assumed responsibility for the Justice Ministry – putting our people first.”
Etnel said this was just the first phase of the project. TelEm will assist Government with speaking to the Chamber of Commerce and other businesses that might want to partner for the remaining phases.
Source: Daily Herald
Philipsburg camera system inaugurated