Columbia police begin using downtown security cameras

Friday, July 22, 2011 | 3:52 p.m. CDT; updated 10:55 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Video cameras for monitoring criminal behavior have been activated downtown despite opposition from civil
liberty advocates.

COLUMBIA — Security cameras were installed in four locations downtown and will provide footage for the Columbia Police Department starting Friday.

Cameras were installed at the intersections of Broadway and Hitt Street, Broadway and Tenth Street, Cherry and Ninth streets and Cherry and Tenth streets. Two cameras were placed at each location.

These intersections were near or a part of "hot spots" associated with high levels of criminal activity, according to a previous Missourian report.

ISG Technology Inc., the contractor the city chose for the installation and maintenance of the cameras, has been testing the cameras since their initial installations, which began July 9, according to Columbia Police Lt. Chris Kelley. 

Kelley said ISG is still “doing some tweaking with a few of them (and) changing some of them out today.”

The videos will be transferred wirelessly to an antenna on top of City Hall, which is connected to the city’s fiber network. The videos will be stored on an ISG server.

Recordings will be saved for 60 days, unless footage of a specific crime needs to be stored.

The $75,000 installation cost was approved by the City Council in May, with funding split between the city and the Special Business District.

The cameras’ installation was approved by voters in the April 2010 election, largely because of strong backing by the grass-roots advocacy group Keep Columbia Safe.

Although the proposition passed with 58 percent approval overall, the majority of First Ward voters opposed the installation of the security cameras. The downtown area is in the First Ward.

Supporters argued the cameras would act as a crime deterrent and a helpful tool in criminal investigations. Opponents argued that the cameras are an expensive and unnecessary invasion of privacy and are unlikely to deter crime.

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Joe Buttros July 22, 2011 | 5:51 p.m.

If you are not doing anything wrong than there should be no problem. This will help us catch the bad guys and act as a deterrent to crime.

(Report Comment)
Jon Hendrell July 23, 2011 | 7:31 a.m.

I personally believe the only thing these cameras will deter is theft from vehicles within view of the cameras. As far as I know Columbia does not have a high vehicle theft rate and if they do, the general public doesn't know about it. So I hope the $75,000 installation is worth the handful of smashed vehicle windows and stolen ipods that would have occurred otherwise.

(Report Comment)
sally willis July 25, 2011 | 11:16 a.m.

Okay so the installation cost was $75,000 what with the maintenance cost be? And do we really think these cameras are going to help now the crime will just move to intersections where there are no cameras. Waste of money if you ask me I think we should have put the money into our education system, maybe even given our teachers a raise.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 25, 2011 | 11:42 a.m.

And then maybe you would have learned to punctuate the ends of your sentences.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 25, 2011 | 1:25 p.m.

Surveillance cameras tend to proliferate. (Do they breed?) As Columbia's population gets used to the first batch, more will come along.
Will they *really* help solve crime? Perhaps they'll act as a small deterrent. But from a causal perusal, it seems that most studies which support their genuine "big impact" on crime are studies conducted by the purveyors of the technology. Odd.
Interesting reading:

(Report Comment)

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