Camera ready: $50,000 donation by Shinn Foundation will aid law enforcement efforts

George Shinn and his fellow Vero Beach resident John Walsh have a common desire: to help fight crime.

Shinn and his wife Denise, through The George Shinn Foundation, are donating $50,000 to local law enforcement agencies to install a wireless camera network system that will provide real time, state-of-the-art technology to all of Indian River County.

“I am always very concerned about security for my family and I think a lot of people in Vero Beach feel the same – even though we are a very safe small town,” said Shinn, who once owned the NBA Charlotte Hornets.

“Helping the Vero Beach Police Department and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office with the initial funding needed to implement the WildFire system is a great beginning to a public-private safety partnership for the entire community.”

WildFire Camera Networks specializes in designing, building and managing high-resolution, high-speed wireless video surveillance networks.

This advanced technology enables law enforcement to monitor situations from their headquarters, from laptops in patrol cars or from any hand-held device.

Cameras can be wired to electrical outlets or to solar battery packs and placed virtually anywhere outdoors. Signals are wirelessly transmitted back to the network video recorder, which can be placed in any indoor location.

Safe investment

“I think it’s great that the Shinns are giving local law enforcement the seed money to expand their operations and inter-operability,” said Walsh, host of CNN’s “The Hunt.”

“I’ve seen it at many, many horrible events – like Katrina and Ground Zero – where a firefighter couldn’t speak to Port Authority cops who weren’t on the same frequency as the NYPD. It was impossible just trying to communicate.

“This new technology will put an end to that.”

Walsh endorses WildFire Camera Networks on their website, without taking a fee, because he trusts the system’s ability to help combat crime.

Last week he tore out the old camera security systems on his Vero Beach properties and replaced them with the WildFire police-quality system. This will immediately give wireless access of the camera’s live and recorded video to the Sheriff’s Department.

At a recent press conference at the Vero Beach Police Department, WildFire demonstrated the advanced technology by showing live, outdoor shots of Walsh’s ranch.

Local interest

Capt. Kevin Martin of the Vero Beach Police Department said, “We were extremely interested when Mr. Shinn brought WildFire executives to us to make their presentation a few months ago. We thought this might be something that can actually work to benefit both the community and law enforcement – especially since citizens can buy into the program.”

That introduction took place in June just after the executives of WildFire introduced George Shinn to John Walsh. A lengthy discussion took place on how best to serve Indian River County.

“My wife and I decided to gift $25,000 to the City of Vero Beach Police Department and the same to the Indian River County Sherriff’s Department to purchase the initial infrastructure, recorders and five cameras each to get this thing started. So they don’t have to come up with any money.”

Both local law enforcement agencies received a call from Jim Pendergraph, the president of WildFire Camera Networks, last week confirming the Shinn Foundation’s contributions to their departments.

“When WildFire called the other day to make Mr. Shinn’s offer to us, we immediately accepted with a big thank you,” said Martin. “WildFire engineers were here the next day, working with both agencies to configure the system and the location of the cameras. So it’s been fast and furious.”

First on the scene

Both local law enforcement agencies feel that this wireless network system will be extremely beneficial, especially in dangerous, high-profile cases such as a bank robbery or shooting.

When a 911 call comes in, the new system allows law enforcement to immediately monitor the situation and alert patrolmen about what is actually occurring at the scene.

According to CEO and founder of WildFire Camera Networks Bob Dunlap, “We are going to use one of the buildings in downtown Vero Beach as a central relay point for both systems. They will wirelessly transmit to each agency’s central hub where the network video recorder and monitors will be positioned.

“The beauty of this system is that these cameras can be positioned miles apart and deliver crystal clear, high-resolution video in real time without wires, and accessible through any smart phone or laptop, by simply logging in.”

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said, “We are very excited about this technology and more excited about the future growth of its public-private partnership to enhance our safety capabilities for all.”

Vero Beach Police Chief David Curry said, “This system will not only speed up the process of putting the bad guys in jail and enhance public safety, but also aid in helping to find missing persons and solve crimes faster and more efficiently.”

Mutual admiration

Pendergraph and Shinn have known each other for years. Pendergraph was a four-term sheriff in Mecklenburg County, N.C., where the Hornets are based.

Dunlap has been a technology entrepreneur for more than 30 years, serving various Fortune 500 companies. He was the founder of the first national wireless internet service provider to deliver satellite cable television and security networks.

He has since sold those companies to Time Warner and London-based Vertiphone, which until recently was the largest cellular provider in the world.

He founded Charlotte, N.C.-based WildFire Camera Networks in 2008 and today his fast-growing company’s products are utilized by more than 150 law enforcement agencies across the country and countless private citizens, retail centers, home-owner associations, hospitals and more.

“I had always admired George Shinn from afar, as I never missed a Hornets game while they were in Charlotte. But I hadn’t met him until a year ago,” said Dunlap. “George wanted to invest in the company and he did. Now he’s investing in his hometown of Vero Beach.

“And with George looking over our shoulder, you can be assured it will be perfection all the way.”