With the end of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, local groups are stepping up to take control of traffic cameras in Umatilla and Morrow counties.

CSEPP currently has 36 cameras designed to monitor traffic flow during an evacuation if an event at the Umatilla Chemical Depot required it, Emergency Management Department Director Casey Beard said Monday. Because the last container of chemical agent has been destroyed, CSEPP will soon lose its funding.

“We think the cameras have some use for law enforcement, so we’re working on a way to try and leave the cameras in a redesigned system to allow the law enforcement agencies in the city of Hermiston, the city of Umatilla and Morrow County to continue to use the cameras after CSEPP,” Beard said.

Currently, all of the information recorded from the cameras is sent through a wireless cloud to a command center at the Hermiston Safety Center. With CSEPP ending, the program will no longer fund that cloud, but the cameras can be repurposed for use with smaller networks within the designated areas.

“It’s basically an issue of what can we reconnect with the repurposed equipment,” Beard said. “Part of our agreement with FEMA is if it is less expensive to reconfigure it than to take it out, they will allow us to spend money to reconfigure it.”

Right now, eight cameras will be turned over to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Technical aspects are still being ironed out, but the other cameras will be probably shared between the city of Hermiston, the city of Umatilla and Morrow County. Monitoring sites will be set up in Heppner and Umatilla, and Hermiston will continue to use its existing monitoring equipment. 

Through the redesigned system, Hermiston could take on between eight and 10 operating cameras.

Hermiston acting Police Chief Jason Edmiston said the department is pursuing keeping access to at least eight cameras.

“We are in the early stages of trying to find out where we want the cameras and what it will ultimately cost the city in maintenance,” Edmiston said. “There is a significant benefit to the cameras, especially in the (Highway) 395 corridor. We’ve used them for numerous reasons, from vandalism to viewing traffic citations. We had a pedestrian that was killed, and it was on video. We definitely see a value in the system. We use it daily.”

Umatilla will be able to access four or five cameras.

“There are multiple uses we see for these cameras, and it won’t cost us anything to get them,” Umatilla City Manager Bob Ward told Umatilla City Council last week. “It’s a good deal for us. We just have to find a cheaper way for maintenance.”

Extra cameras that cannot be linked to a redesignated system will be dismantled and distributed to the agencies for use as spare parts. 

Some of the cameras are only a couple months old, others date back nine years. Beard said as the cameras are decommissioned, older cameras will be replaced with newer cameras before being turned over.

“For the taxpayers, it’s a good use of resources to continue to use those in the places we can,” Beard said. “With this configuration, we’ll be able to significantly cut the operating costs and make it affordable to use in the future.”


Radios to be 


CSEPP officials announced last week that they will no longer test the Tone Alert Radios in Umatilla and Morrow Counties.

In the future, CSEPP will ask resident to recycle their TARs, strobe lights, antennas and power cords. CSEPP will provide recycling bins later this month and will notify the public of those locations.

For more information, contact Maria Dur?n, Morrow County Emergency Management at 866-813-8130, or Jodi Florence, Umatilla County Emergency Management at 541-966-3703.

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