Apr 11, 2012 7:47 PM by Matt Stafford

City Council moves forward with downtown surveillance

Colorado Springs City Council is going through with a controversial decision to install surveillance cameras in parts of the downtown area. Colorado Springs police and trained volunteers will be monitoring for crimes.

Nine cameras will be installed along Tejon Street, between Rio Grande St. and Boulder St. Another camera will be placed at the intersection of Platte Ave. and Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey says the cameras can pan and zoom, but won't record sound.

"The cameras will be a tool in our overall crime prevention, crime reduction strategy," Chief Carey told city council in March. "We know from experience that surveillance video can be very helpful during investigations."

It was a split decision from city council; with three members voting against the cameras. The ordinance authorizes $188,025 for buying, installing, and maintaining the cameras. However, downtown businesses have offered to pitch in $25,000 for the maintenance of the cameras. An additional $25,700 will pay for overtime salaries for police officers on downtown patrols. Also, $23,275 will help buy a sidewalk sweeper; more than $237,000 being allocated in all.

Councilwoman Angela Dougan voted in favor of the cameras; she tells News 5 that the cameras won't be judge and jury, but just another tool for our police force.

However, Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko was against the cameras because she doesn't see them as part of a well-formulated public safety plan; just another pushed through appropriation. Councilwoman Czelatdko points out that she thinks public safety concerns are pressing in Colorado Springs, but need to be handled correctly. She says constituents have told her that they want more public safety spending, but not in the form of surveillance cameras.

City administrators and the Mayor have expressed support for the cameras. They say volunteers will be a big help.

"There's people with passion that are willing to volunteer; with the appropriate training," Steve Cox, chief of economic vitality and innovation for the city of Colorado Springs, told media earlier in the project's planning stages.

The cameras are part of a year-long pilot program, being evaluated every three months. Next year city council will decide if they want to continue funding the program.

CSPD spokeswoman Barbara Miller tells News 5 they want to begin installing the cameras in the next five to six months. Miller says light-duty officers and volunteers with training will be monitoring the cameras.



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