Camera too costly, risky to monitor Deering cemeteries
DEERING - While other communities have caught litterbugs or kayak thefts with game cameras, Police Chief James Pushee doesn't believe it would be the best option to deter cemetery vandalism in town.
After 26 gravestones in Appleton Cemetery were recently damaged, Pushee considered using game cameras, which are motion-activated, to keep watch over the town's burial grounds, "but several legal and logistical concerns also arose."
Pushee said in an email that the cameras could bring up concerns over privacy and legal issues with wiretapping concerns. He added the town would have to post notices if the cameras were installed to monitor cemeteries, which are public property.
Pushee also said the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining multiple cameras in each of the town's six cemeteries may not be feasible. Appleton Cemetery alone could require up to eight cameras to cover the grounds.
Pushee said each camera, which takes up to a dozen batteries, would record between one and three weeks of action. He added battery life also decreases in colder temperatures. "The time and costs, not only for that many cameras, but to purchase and replace batteries on a regular basis, as well as SD cards, etc. would end up being cost-prohibitive in the long run for a small town like Deering, where budgets are so strapped already," Pushee wrote in the email. "If we had an idea that something like this might happen, such as a known 'history' of problems that we could identify, then we could jump legal and logistical hoops to get permission legally to place hidden cameras."
In that case, Pushee said police "could deploy cameras at a place and time where they would be most likely to obtain usable images of criminal activity."
A maintenance crew discovered the damage to the granite and marble gravestones - some from the 19th century - when it returned to the cemetery to conduct monthly upkeep of the town-owned property along Deering Center Road - Route 149 - near the Hillsborough border.
As the town waits for an estimated cost to repair the damage, which occurred within the past month, police continue to investigate and encourage residents with information to call 464-3127.
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John Quinn may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.