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Council approves funding for downtown surveillance

By: JOHN SCHROYER
April 10, 2012
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Ten new surveillance cameras will be installed in downtown Colorado Springs by the end of the year.

City Council on Tuesday approved an expenditure of $237,000 that includes monies to buy the cameras requested by Police Chief Peter Carey.

The police department will begin installing the cameras in September or October, and nine of them will likely be on different blocks of Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs, police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said in an email.

One camera will be placed at the intersection of Nevada  and Platte avenues, Miller said.

The ordinance allocates $163,025 to buy the cameras and the software to run them, and ongoing annual payouts of $25,000 for camera and software upkeep and $25,700 to pay overtime salaries for officers to patrol downtown.

The ordinance also includes $23,275 to help the Downtown Business Improvement District buy a sidewalk sweeper.

Light-duty officers and volunteers will be trained  to operate and monitor the cameras, said Miller.

The ordinance was approved on a 6-3 vote, with Council President Scott Hente and council members Val Snider and Lisa Czelatdko dissenting.

Mayor Steve Bach said in a statement that he’s fully behind the cameras.

“I am in support of enhanced downtown safety, and because we do not have the resources to put more boots on the ground, Chief Carey believes this will be a force multiplier,” Bach said.

Carey made the request to council in February, and said in it that the heart of downtown Colorado Springs has gotten far more police calls than other areas of downtown.  

Councilman Bernie Herpin, who voted for the cameras, said they will allow police to pick up much more quickly on fights and other incidents on Tejon Street than they do by responding to 911 calls.

“This would allow him to better utilize the few officers he has on weekend nights, when a lot of people are downtown,” he said.

Councilwoman Czelatdko, however, pointed to the council’s March hearing, at which many residents railed against the cameras.

“The majority spoke. They came forward publicly. They came on emails, they came to these hearings, and a majority said they want physical police officers,” Czelatdko said.

Councilwoman Angela Dougan replied that the designated money  wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for more police officers on a long-term basis.

“I absolutely agree we should hire more policemen, but $188,000 is not going to get you a policeman for very long,” she said.

Czelatdko also said the cameras will undermine downtown’s attractiveness to locals and visitors alike.

“I think it turns public perception that downtown would be dangerous, or it’s not safe,” she said. “And these cameras are just going to reinforce that.”


Contact John Schroyer: 476-4825
Twitter @Johnschroyer
Facebook Gazette John Schroyer

Click here for a story about the debate over surveillance cameras.

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