ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- St. Louis is preparing to regain control of its police department for the first time in 150 years. In light of that historic milestone, city leaders are working to make the force stronger by adding more crime fighting tools. Eddie Roth, Director of Operations says that includes buying portable surveillance cameras. "This is something we need to do on a citywide basis. Our new Chief of Police Sam Dotson with the return of local control and the reordering of our police districts has closed circuit cameras on his agenda."
The Gateway City already has some mobile cameras in its crime fighting arsenal, which are monitored regularly. "We do that now with our trash police to prevent illegal dumping and it has possibilities for general crime reduction."
Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri St. Louis conducted research on the impact of crime in the 21st Ward after surveillance cameras were installed. He says the results are encouraging. "We found an initial crime reduction in the areas where the cameras were located in the 21st ward, that crime reduction lasted for a few months," said Rosenfeld.
Antonio French, Alderman of the 21st Ward championed the effort to get surveillance cameras installed on light poles in his ward. Now, he's leading the charge to get mobile surveillance cameras. In fact, French says he has already purchased six, which will be moved from one high crime area to another in his community and they will be shared with other wards - specifically Wards 4 and 27. "These cameras will be installed on buildings on public buildings in high traffic areas. They differ from our current cameras because they use cellular technology," said French.
When asked about the public's right to privacy French said his constituents support the project. "Everyone thinks it’s a great idea. The question I get is - when are we getting a camera on my block?" said French.
Alderman French says his portable surveillance cameras will be installed next week. He adds he is talking with St. Louis Police Chief, Sam Dotson about providing officers to monitor the cameras. With all of the surveillance cameras in use throughout the City from the Central Wes End to north City, Eddie Roth says there's a proposal in the works to link all of the cameras together. With everyone working together, that should surely help reduce crime.