July 11, 2014
Fri Jul 11, 2014, 03:00 AM EDT
NEWBURYPORT — Skateboarding, vandalism, security cameras and even flooding concerns in Market Square were among the topics covered during a rapid-fire community meeting held yesterday afternoon at the Newburyport Police Department’s conference room.
The meeting was called shortly after last week’s troubling discovery of graffiti spray-painted on an Inn Street turret near the Sweethaven Photo Gallery.
In addition to City Marshal Thomas Howard, who hosted the meeting, Mayor Donna Holaday, city planner Andrew Port, city councilors Jared Eigerman, Robert Cronin and Meghan Kinsey and former Mayor Byron Matthews were present.
On the morning of Tuesday, July 1, business owners opened their shops to discover someone had spray-painted graffiti on a massive panel. It took an inmate crew from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department several hours to blast the graffiti off the turret using a combination of baking soda, high pressure air and water.
Yesterday, Howard said security cameras were unable to identify those responsible, saying the images captured by the cameras were too grainy to discern those responsible. As a result, Howard said he is exploring ways to upgrade the camera’s capability to include infra-red detection.
More than four years ago, Newburyport police installed cameras on Inn Street using money obtained through a community police grant. According to authorities, the cameras have been instrumental in the police department’s efforts to crack down on gang activity, shoplifting and other crimes. The cameras are monitored by officers and dispatchers inside the Green Street station and have the ability to zoom in from far distances. In addition to cameras, police officers on foot and on bicycles patrol Inn Street regularly.
While praising the cameras, Howard was quick to point out that police aren’t likely to spot crimes being committed, but rather they give the department the ability to go back in time and arrest those who commit crimes.