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Surveillance cameras proposal moving forward

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Columbus is moving forward with plans to equip several city locations with surveillance cameras.

The Board of Public Works and Safety last week agreed to seek proposals for the cameras at Fourth and Washington streets at The Commons, 11th and Washington streets, Morningside Park in the East Columbus neighborhood and the Columbus Police Department training facility on Andrews Street. The city will also seek another camera at Ninth Street Park.

Steve Carothers, co-owner of Max’s Jewelry at the corner of Fourth and Washington streets, said he would welcome the addition of cameras downtown. Although he has not spoken to the city about the plan, he believes it would be good for the safety of people downtown at night and during downtown events.

Carothers said he already has cameras inside his store that do provide some surveillance of the street outside.

Kenny Whipker, former Bartholomew County sheriff and newest City Council member, lives near the 11th and Washington Street intersection and as a private citizen has attended neighborhood meetings on security issues in the area. He said he thinks the cameras proposed at the intersection would be a good investigative tool but of more use after a crime has occurred than reacting to live incidents.

“It is an expectation that the public thinks the police should be doing,” Whipker said.

For Whipker, the neighborhood improvement efforts are a quality-of-life issue. He said it goes hand-in-hand with the “broken window” idea of policing, which suggests that a rundown appearance will lead to more crime.

Initial cost estimates for the project were about $116,300, which would be paid from a capital fund in the city technical advisory committee’s budget.

Last month, city officials said they were considering the cameras to assist public safety efforts near areas with a high number of police calls, such as the 11th and Washington streets intersection and Ninth Street Park, and to protect high-value public property at The Commons.

Police Chief Jason Maddix said that city safety officials were impressed with cameras used downtown by the Indiana State Police during the Mill Race Marathon. He sees it as a way to multiply efforts of the police officers.

Maddix said the 11th and Washington streets proposal grew out of public comments during neighborhood meetings.

“It is really a grass-roots effort from community members on 11th and Washington,” Maddix said.

The cameras would provide real-time video monitoring in all weather and would be accessible remotely by police and dispatchers, according to the proposal.

The deadline for proposals will be Jan. 24, and they will be opened at the Jan. 28 Board of Works meeting.

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