I-Team: Where are courthouse cameras?

March 30, 2010 4:45:48 PM PDT
When gunfire rang out next to the Durham County Courthouse earlier this month, an ABC11 report exposed a serious problem: the chaos wasn't caught on video.

It began with an argument in the lobby of the building. Security officers forced everyone involved outside. Later, shots were fired from a car and a bullet bounced off the pavement and hit a man next to the building.

Nothing that happened outside the building was recorded even though the courthouse building has a security camera system. ABC11 has learned it hasn't worked in years.

ABC11 went to Durham County leader to find out why the problem hasn't been taken care of.

"We have had an ongoing concern about safety. We have processed it incrementally," explained Assistant County Manager Deborah Craig-Ray

Craig-Ray explained that as security has been improved, the first priorities were x-ray machines and metal detectors. Then, the county installed security card access.

But after our report on the security cameras aired, a source said the new priority is installing new cameras inside and out. It's a process that county leaders say was already underway.

"It has been on the table for some time. It just takes a little while to move it through a process - and of course, the finances," said Craig-Ray.

A new surveillance system will cost about $110,000. That's money that will come from another capital project.

It's a quick fix that's been a long time coming, and unfortunately, one that won't be moving to Durham's new courthouse.

"No I don't think we'll be able to pull it over," said Craig-Ray.

That means the new camera system will be in place for less than two years because Durham County's new justice center is expected to open in the fall of 2012.

The groundbreaking is set for Wednesday.

We did some checking and found both Wake and Orange County's courthouses have functioning surveillance camera systems.

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