MOUNT VERNON --They're supposed to be a place for kids to get out and play, but some local playgrounds are doubling as after-hours hangouts, filling up with people coming in long after the gates are locked. The city of Mount Vernon has had enough, and its leaders are taking steps to put a stop to it, installing security cameras in the playgrounds. Like any surveillance camera, the ones going up in Mount Vernon take pictures. But get this: they talk too, giving trespassers a warning: "Stop, this is a restricted area and your photograph was just taken. We will use it to prosecute you. Leave the area now." On Tuesday, Mount Vernon officials showed off the city's newest crime prevention tool. The cameras are meant to deter illegal activity and vandalism at parks and playgrounds after hours. "We want to send a message that if you're going to do evil things, this is not the city to do it," said Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis. "I think this will help ensure that in the different parks in Mount Vernon, people and children can live safely," said resident Katrina Foster. The cameras are solar-powered and motion activated. The flash is powerful enough to photograph a suspect up to 100 feet away, even in darkness. Each unit costs $6,000, and there are a number of residents who say the money is being misspent, given the poor conditions in some of the playgrounds. "There's nothing in here, so why do you have cameras in here?", said resident Rainier Yizar. "It's really sad, because these kids have nowhere to go," said resident Shalicer Robinson. "Where are they gonna play, everything there is too messed up." But officials say they can't fix up the parks until they crack down on vandalism, hence the cameras. As for those concerned about invasion of privacy: "You hear people say, 'why all these cameras?', said City Councilman Yuhanna Edwards. "If you're not doing anything wrong, don't worry about the cameras." In all, there will be a dozen units installed, and to protect the cameras themselves from being vandalized, each one is bullet-proof.
BREAKING NEWS Shelter in place lifted after prisoner captured