St. Charles Herald-Guide

Parish ‘spy camera’ sees everything ... even our reporter (pictured) on her doorstep

By Shonna Riggs - December 13, 2006

A futuristic and highly sophisticated camera keeps a watchful eye on St. Charles Parish 24 hours a day, seven days a week - and its capabilities will blow your mind.

On a clear day, officials can see the newspaper on a doorstep. They can even make out the license plate on your car if you’re in the right spot. 
The primary focus of the Weather Bug Spy Cam is to monitor suspicious activities at the plants, refineries and  Waterford III, the nuclear power plant.
“We can see everything, even up to someone’s front door,” Tab Troxler, director of emergency operations, tells the Herald-Guide.
“On a clear day we can see all the way to Gramercy and sometimes to New Orleans.”
The camera is a component of an impressive array of monitoring devices at the Emergency Preparedness Office in Hahnville.
The gear is designed to help keep the residents safe in an emergency, and by anyone’s reckoning, says Troxler, it’s state of the art.
The camera itself sits atop a tower on the roof of the courthouse. Officials man the watch station 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
“There is no night lens, so we really can’t see very well after the sun goes down,” says Troxler. “But if the street lights are on we can see, and the plants are all visible to us because they are lit-up at night.”
The officials say if they see trouble happening from the live video feed, they  are able to contact the local  authorities such as the police or the local fire department immediately.
“We had a fire this past year at Occidental Chemical in Taft. They called it in to us and told us it was a small fire.
“But when our camera zoomed in on it we could see it was a much bigger fire than had been reported and we called the fire department right away and told them the magnitude of the fire that we were seeing from the live video camera feed,” Troxler says.
Had the fire threatened residents, another piece of high-tech equipment - the emergency office’s satellite phone system - would have kicked in automatically, dialing up residents parish wide to alert them to trouble and keep them informed.
“All of our systems work hand in glove to help keep our residents prepared and safe in an emergency,” Troxler says.

Ever get the feeling someone is watching you? In this staged experiment, emergency boss Tab Troxler shows what his camera can do, zeroing in on reporter Shonna Riggs on her doorstep (right). Camera pictured is for illustration purposes only - it’s not the
Ever get the feeling someone is watching you? In this staged experiment, emergency boss Tab Troxler shows what his camera can do, zeroing in on reporter Shonna Riggs on her doorstep (right). Camera pictured is for illustration purposes only - it’s not the