New cameras bring protection to Nebraska town

In many small communities, the police chief is a one-person department and crimes don’t stop when they’re off duty.
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
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SCRIBNER, Neb. (WOWT) - In many small communities, the police chief is a one-person department and crimes don’t stop when they’re off duty.

While deputies often help with coverage the immediate protection and crime-solving usually falls on the only cop in town.

A hit and run that’s frustrating and expensive for Elizabeth Valla.

“If we would have known who it was then quite possibly I wouldn’t have had to pay the $500 deductible,” said Valla.

There’s a better chance that kind of crime won’t go unsolved again in Scribner, Nebraska now that Chief Jake Brainard has 16 cameras strategically located around town.

“If the camera we have set up in the park at the time we could have picked up the individual either headed out west or east on the road,” said Brainard.

Scribner officials used $27,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act to buy the camera system from Complete Security and Investigations.

“If it sees a person at 10 o’clock at night it will set off an audible alert. And it will be your voice saying you in the blue shirt stop breaking into the building,” said Matt Schott, Complete Security.

Video stored for an average of 90 days off cameras in various public spots around town from the highway to the main street.

So if a suspicious party the police want to keep an eye on enters city hall, they’ll be able to get a good description as they enter the building. And once inside, another camera picks up the suspicious party and can follow them all the way through the building.

The chief can zoom in on license plates but town-wide cameras aren’t just for finding suspects.

“If you have a vulnerable adult or child missing, we can go back to the camera and go over the last known location and follow them from there,” said Brainard.

Down the road in Hooper, a camera captured a fast-moving suspect and gave the pursuing officer a direction of travel.

”A lot of times we can narrow in with these street cameras to see vehicles moving and kind of direct us in the right direction with our investigation,” said Chief Branden Stoural, Hooper Police Department.

Back in Scribner, residents like Elizabeth see safety through a different lens.

“I have peace of mind being a resident of this town knowing that we have not just the police chief’s eyes but also have record of what is happening here,” said Valla.

The camera systems have been installed in five Nebraska communities and not just for law enforcement purposes.

The cameras are also focused on creeks and rivers so the community can be alerted when there is flooding.

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