Archive for Saturday, June 2, 2012

City Commission to consider downtown surveillance cameras

June 2, 2012


Whether it’s for massive Final Four celebrations or late-night Massachusetts Street scuffles, local law enforcement leaders are seeking to add police-controlled surveillance cameras in downtown Lawrence.

City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting will be asked to allow the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to use $46,800 in grant money to purchase up to two surveillance cameras and necessary hardware to install in downtown.

“It is probably past time that we had something like this,” said Tarik Khatib, Lawrence police chief.

Khatib said the department installed one camera at the intersection of Ninth and Massachusetts streets, just prior to the spring’s Final Four celebrations. It remains in place. The department also installed three temporary cameras to help monitor that celebration.

“Video systems, when used correctly, are a great public safety enhancement,” Khatib said. “They really proved themselves with the Final Four. They’d be great for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and if we had a missing child case downtown they could be really beneficial.”

But the application for the grant money, which is coming from a U.S. Justice Department grant, said the cameras also would be used to capture evidence of criminal activity.

Khatib said he eventually would like to have a system where the cameras would record and store footage for up to 48 hours, giving officers the opportunity to access the footage as part of investigations. But he said he was uncertain the initial grant funding would provide enough money to buy all the necessary computer storage to implement such a system.

Khatib said the use of security cameras by law enforcement is becoming more common. He said Overland Park has cameras at 30 percent of the city’s intersections, at the Oak Park Mall and at schools. Locally, Kansas University has a host of campus cameras that are monitored by part-time employees, Khatib said.

“Often times, the camera is the first one on the scene, so to speak,” Khatib said. “The people monitoring the camera can see the scene and relay some really useful information to the responding officers.”

The city currently has traffic cameras at about a dozen intersections across the city.

Khatib said he would like for the Police Department to more readily have access to that footage, which currently is not being recorded. But Khatib said this latest grant won’t include funds to help with those improvements.

Khatib also said he expects to hear some concerns from the public about whether the cameras will be an intrusion on people’s privacy.

“What I want people to know is that the reason we want to do this is because there is a very real public safety reason to do this,” said Khatib, who said video footage captured by private downtown security camera had helped solve at least one downtown shooting case in recent years.

Khatib said he didn’t have a firm timeline for when the cameras would be installed, but he hopes the system will be in place within a year.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


DillonBarnes 5 years, 5 months ago

No time to actually read the story this morning?

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 5 months ago

Will the new armored tank be able to view the video?

iLikelawrence 5 years, 5 months ago

Just watch the sky view from Channel 6. Problem sovled. Money Saved!

cjeter 5 years, 5 months ago

those must be some serious cameras to cost that much for 2. Any idea what type of hardware they are planning on using?

nut_case 5 years, 5 months ago

Eff cell phone can shoot in 1080p HD. It's all about the SOFTWARE!

Install a copy of the optical character reader software already running on our 'scan you as you leave / enter town' cameras, add a facial recognition module and you'll be able to scan anyone, anywhere anytime!

Dang...'1984' was supposed to be a warning...not a guide book!

JackMcKee 5 years, 5 months ago

this way they can spot the people with the best basketball tickets more quickly.

JackMcKee 5 years, 5 months ago

here's my suggestion, since the public is paying for them let the public see the feeds. Put the cameras online. They might even be able to offset the costs with sponsors. It's a win-win. Everyone should get the chance to spy on their fellow residents, not just the police.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 5 months ago

Voyeurs want a piece of this action! Turn us against ourselves! Brilliant in its light... Foolish in its darkness... It is better to have the public watch our leaders, I think.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is not busy enough for all of this military style surveillance activity.

How have the currently installed spying mechanisms helped? How exactly are they paying back?

Waste of money I say.

Jock Navels 5 years, 5 months ago

will they be connected to the police drones with a kill algorithm app installed? better to install the cameras inside police cars to monitor their behavior.

Dan Blomgren 5 years, 5 months ago

“Video systems, when used correctly, are a great public safety enhancement,” Khatib said. “They really proved themselves with the Final Four. They’d be great for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and if we had a missing child case downtown they could be really beneficial.”

Tell me how these cameras 'really proved themselves for the Final Four'. The Final Four has happened a couple of times in 20 years. Do we want to spend money on events that happen on such rare occurences? And how would they be 'great for the St. Patrick's Day Parade'? You mean watching the Parade from the Command Center? And they would be great "IF we had a missing child case downtown" but only IF the child/perpetrators happened to walk in front of one of the two cameras'. And how often does Lawrence have missing children cases. It's an expensive new toy that Khatib wants to play with, but its a waste of money. Let's forget about invasion of privacy for a second and just concentrate on its usefulness. Give me (the Lawrence community) some solid proof of its positive use. Show us where the cameras actually help to solve crimes. And please remember Lawrence will only have two cameras, so if the crime isn't being committed on two specific points downtown the cameras are useless.

But he said he was uncertain the initial grant funding would provide enough money to buy all the necessary computer storage to implement such a system. So its possible that we spend nearly 50K only to have it usefulness be lost in data storage.

Khatib wants a new toy to play with and that's about it! It's a waste of money. Take the 50K and provide better training to the current police staff. Don't waste it on frivolous toys.

Khatib stop with the rhetoric. Bring some solid numbers to city commission meeting proving how two cameras 'patroling' 20 sq yards (that's an estimate) of Lawrence will make this community safer. FYI Lawrence is 28 square MILES in size.

We should point one of the cameras into the night sky in case we have an alien visitor. The chances of that are as strong as 'the possibility of a missing child' walking in front of one of the cameras downtown.

hipper_than_hip 5 years, 5 months ago

Will new staff need to be hired to monitor the video feeds, or are there under-employed police officers sitting around that need something to do?

If there's not enough money in the grant to buy all the necessary gear, then why even propose installing such a system? The police dept has listed a number of things they want to buy, like a new centralized headquarters building, new guns, a SWAT vehicle, and new gear for their SWAT team. Now they want a video camera system downtown.

Has anyone suggested to the chief that the dept needs to prioritize what they want to buy? Grant money comes from tax payers, and tax payers shouldn't be considered to have an open checkbook for every piece of gear that police think they need to have.

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

why don't we just pay people with i phones a 10 spot for a video of bad stuff

Matt Schwabauer 5 years, 5 months ago

there ya go. people's surveillance co-op.

jus 5 years, 5 months ago

Some of the details about the video camera proposal for downtown don't seem to add up. If. only "up to 2 cameras" are proposed, and retention of film data is to be only '48 hours', how is 47 thousand dollars not going to cover all of that, especially if 'upgrading' the 12 traffic light cameras are not included in this? What is being left out of this story?

Some issues with police surveillance cameras that we as a community might consider are detailed in the ACLU report on Chicago's surveillance system at:

We as a community need more information on the specifics of such a system that has so much potential for misuse and unintended bad consequences. Perhaps a detailed report from the police and sheriff departments and a 60 day period for written public comment and a public meeting? Our Constitutionally protected civil liberties are worth it.

Perhaps the upgrade of emergency response radio system should be discussed along with the cctv issues as they seem to be 'a piece' - the rational by law enforcement is the same - to help with final four events downtown and parades. Seems like more transparency and openness is in order.

How many cameras including temporary ones are currently downtown and elsewhere? How long is data held, what are the capabilities of the technologies - biometric etc, who has access and how is it used? - just a few questions to start.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 5 months ago

I guarantee that no government will be satisfied until it can call all of its citizens...criminals. It will happen by hook, crook, camera, coercion and criminal code. Control is key. Resistance is futile and the revolution will only be televised in the cell of our demise!~)

James Minor 5 years, 5 months ago

The City Commission must be watching "The Person Of Interest" on CBS. Lawrence should expect next to see a guy in a suit walking downtown kicking criminals butts. The LPD wants Lawrence to pay $30M + $47K + the cost of the machine that sees all stops crime before it happens???? Will the LPD allow the public to see camera feeds even if it involves police officer misconduct? Or, will they try and bend the First Amendment when it looks bad for them????

Dan Eyler 5 years, 5 months ago

30 million for new police station, 30 new police officers, 47 thousand for police monitors, 10 million for new high school stadiums, 18 million for new library, 10 million for a new rec center, another bond issue for expanded school services, a new water treatment plant and on and on but nothing for private sector jobs. So the taxes to pay for all of these government services are coming from where? The already strapped tax payer. Interesting.

James Minor 5 years, 5 months ago

In a very difficult economy there seems to be a strong desire for an open checkbook. There are a lot of misguided Republicans wanting a small Federal government with the dilusion that there will be more spending money. The requests seen in Lawrence for a new police station, more cameras, etc, should remind us that if the money does not come from the Feds, or the State, it will come from the county. I am 100% for the development of a new Library. The ideas and concepts to meet the needs of the future will be evident with the new Library. The members of the Library board are spot on for putting Lawrence in the position for meeting future demands. On Saturday, there were a lot of kids there for the summer event. Some of the those kids may not have access to the tools needed to make them a better student. The new Library will help them fill the gap!!!! Hopefully, the backwoods Republicans and Conservatives with their antiquated ideas will not stop the Library from being constructed.

notorious_agenda 5 years, 5 months ago

One antiquated idea would be that "all ___ are ___."

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