Navy to brief congressman after concerns about security cameras

A local congressman is pushing for answers as part of our investigation into concerns about security cameras at one local Naval base.

A local congressman is pushing for answers as part of our investigation into concerns about security cameras at one local Naval base.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released video taken by cameras at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in hopes of getting information in the search for Ashanti Billie. Authorities said it shows the car of that once-missing and endangered teenager entering and leaving the gates. But many viewers couldn't believe how unclear the footage is.

13News Now contacted the Navy with questions and got few answers. We also called Congressman Scott Taylor, whose district includes the base.

He had the same concerns about the video as our viewers, his constituents.

“My first reaction was that they were grainy and the quality wasn't that good, of course,” he described.

Representative Scott Taylor's office sent a letter to the Navy. It asked if it has adequate security, when were cameras put in place, what cameras are there and why is the video so grainy.

“Obviously in today's world you can get a lot better technology and quality,” he maintained.

The Navy responded when the equipment was installed, it met the standards of the time. Taylor called that answer "purposefully vague."

But now we've learned the Navy will give Taylor a briefing to walk him through what's there, how it works and what the gaps may be.

“They don't want to have publicly the totality of their security and how it's integrated and all those things public,” Taylor explained. “I understand that.”

Some people, who contacted 13News Now, believed they have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. On the other hand, some understood why the Navy doesn’t want to release sensitive details about security.

“There is a balance,” Taylor answered when we asked how to weigh both sides. “There's no doubt about that. It's up to someone like myself, who is a representative of the people, to be the go-between.”

The Congressman is familiar with the base, as some of his time as a Navy SEAL was spent there. He also now sits on the Military Construction Appropriations Sub-committee in Congress. The position could hold influence in addressing budget cuts that may have led to the lack of upgrades and now prioritizing limited resources.

“What's ironic, of course, is that as technology has gotten better and better, it's also gotten cheaper,” Taylor detailed. “So there is potential to get those upgrades and that's something once I get the totality of the whole picture we'll be able to take the next steps.”

We wanted to know how Taylor can guarantee this issue is something that is going to be addressed, and not forgotten when the outrage over Ashanti Billie’s death diminishes.

“We will do our part to make sure that the military has adequate funding to be able to upgrade their security when it's necessary,” Taylor responded. “Then, it's up to me and you, which you're doing your job, as well, too, in informing the public that those things are taking place, that you're following up on the story. I applaud this station for continuing to follow up to keep the public abreast of what's going on to make sure that they have adequate security.”

The Navy briefing is expected next month. Taylor said they'll not only talk about Little Creek, but the situation on all bases to see what needs to be done and how much it would cost. 

Stay with 13News Now as we continue to investigate and follow developments about this issue.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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