Police Can Now Monitor Digital Cameras Inside CU

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The Green Bay Police Department here has a bird's eye view of 1st Security Credit Union following the installation of digital cameras linked to its communications center.

The $74-million credit union joined several local businesses that received the V-Tech Security system, which gives police dispatchers at the Brown County Communications Center the capability of viewing the inside of businesses with zoom in and zoom out controls simply by moving a computer mouse.

The obvious benefit is that dispatchers can see crimes in progress, which allows police to respond with the proper personnel.

Next month, V-Tech will test the digital system's capability to link with police car laptops, allowing officers to see live incidents as they travel to the scene.

Already, images feed into company computers, giving administrators visual access to their staff at any given time, said Jeff Fails, owner of V-Tech Security, Green Bay,

For example, he said, 1st Security CU CEO Dan Pierquet can check on employees from his off-site corporate office.

And, unlike the old method that required searching through complete video tapes to find a particular incident, Fails said this system allows its users to call up a particular event, simply by punching in a time and date.

"If a customer calls to complain that an employee was rude, the president can go back and view their actions,'' he said. "They can see for themselves whether the employee acted inappropriately or followed company guidelines to the letter.''

Fails, who introduced the digital system to retail food stores and health care facilities within the last year, said there have been mixed emotions from workers about "Big Brother'' watching their every move.

Potential Life Saver

For financial institutions, he said, cameras are not new, so this additional technology shouldn't make the employees any less comfortable. For the most part, he said, it may save their lives during a crisis situation and/or save their company money.

While no incidents have occurred since 1St Security got its new digital system, Fails said a retail chain that recently had the same system installed caught their first thief a few days ago.

"A customer walked into the store and went to the back where he picked up (some merchandise), brought it back to the front and tried to return it,'' Fails said. While the customer waited for his money, the manager "went to his office, typed in the data'' and got a play-by-play of the man's criminal intent.

"And he was able to do it within 10 minutes,'' Fails said of the manager, noting that if it turned out the customer was right, the length of time it took to make sure wouldn't have been too much of an inconvenience. "He realized that he had a very powerful tool in deterring crime,'' Fails said.

Fails, who spent years designing, testing and perfecting the system, said for many financial institutions, cost won't be a deterrent.

For those with decent video surveillance in place, he said the cost to convert to the digital technology can run as low as $1,000. That said, those starting from scratch may be looking at a bill as high as $90,000.

Fails said 1st Security CU is the first CU to use its products, but he's hoping word will spread and added that he is willing to provide information and demonstrations to anyone interested. V-Tech presently serves Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

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