Council gives initial OK to downtown surveillance camera

March 27, 2012
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Ten city-owned video surveillance cameras likely will be in downtown Colorado Springs by this summer.

The City Council approved a proposal Tuesday to buy the cameras that the Police Department plans to install mostly along Tejon Street.

“I don’t take lightly the trust that City Council just put in me to do this correctly,” police Chief Pete Carey said after the vote.

“We’re going to implement this very fairly and make sure that anybody who’s watching the cameras has the correct amount of education and knowledge about what to look for and not to look for,” he said. “I really hope this implementation is smooth … and that a year from now it’s made our downtown a little bit safer.”

The vote was 6-2 vote. Council President Scott Hente and Councilman Val Snider opposed and Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko was absent. The proposal will be up for second reading and final approval in two weeks.

Hente said he was “bothered by the financial aspects” of the proposal, noting that the Bach administration has requested supplemental budget appropriations in recent weeks and that more are expected in a month or two.

“I’m very worried about this from a financial standpoint,” Hente said.

“I’ve been doing this for nine years,” he added, referring to his time on council. “I’m probably more concerned now even than I was a couple years ago about the financial future of this city, and I just want to see the big picture. I don’t know how we can keep piece-mealing this and figure out how it’s going to fit.”

Taxpayers will pay more than $160,000 to purchase and install the cameras. The annual maintenance cost is about $25,000. The life of the cameras is six years.

“I would anticipate that sometime in the later part of this summer, probably in the July or August time frame, some of them will be functional,” Carey said.

Carey plans to use trained volunteers and police officers on light duty to monitor the cameras, but said he hasn’t yet determined the number of hours of active monitoring.

In addition to approving the surveillance cameras, the council approved spending $23,275 to help buy a sidewalk sweeper and increasing police overtime for the downtown area by $25,000 in 2012.

Councilman Bernie Herpin said he trusted Carey’s recommendation to get the cameras.

“I look to our chief of police as our chief law enforcement officer to be our chief adviser on safety and security,” Herpin said.

“If he has an operational need for something that will enhance the safety and security in his opinion as a professional, I think we owe him that duty and respect to accept that opinion,” he said.

Council President Pro Tem Jan Martin said she’s always supported downtown.

“In this case, I really want to show support for the mayor and this idea, too,” she said. “I do hope that it actually does exactly what we hope it will do and that it will bring more people downtown and people will feel safer who do come downtown.”

Contact Daniel Chacón: 476-1623
Twitter @danieljchacon
Facebook Daniel Chacon

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