Put yourself in the mind of a graffiti vandal looking to add your tag to some blighted back alley brick wall frequently defaced by spray paint. You approach the scene at night under the cover of darkness, shaking your aerosol paint can, ready to leave your mark.
Then suddenly you are blinded by a bright flash of light while a detached voice cracks through the nighttime quiet.
Would you stick around to leave your tag?
Officials with the Hyattsville City Police Department don't think so, and for that reason they are trying to purchase two new automated cameras which they hope will help to identify, apprehend and deter vandals in graffiti prone areas.
The cameras, dubbed the FlashCAM, are made by Q-Star Technology. They feature a standard digital camera secured inside a tough, weatherproof metal box and wired to a bright electronic flash and audio speaker system. Equipped with a motion sensor, the cameras can snap a photograph and play an audio message warning trespassers away.
The cameras are also solar powered, requiring no external power supply to run. Untethered from a need for electrical wires, the cameras can be discretely positioned almost anywhere.
Documents from Q-Star Technology boast that the FlashCAM can identify facial details from up to 150 feet away at night and detect motion from 100 feet away.
The portable camera units cost between $5,000 and $6,000. The police department hopes to purchase two of the cameras with money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The police department applied for the grant in May in order to meet the application deadline. Last night, the city council retroactively approved the grant application.
Not voting–on account of absence–were council members Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4), Nicole Hinds Mofor (Ward 5) and Paula Perry (Ward 4).