Police to use cameras to monitor Mardi Gras festivities in real time

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by Lauren Trager / News 4 | @LaurenTrager

KMOV.com

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 6:17 AM

(KMOV) – Attendees’ every move could be captured on a live feed at Soulard’s Mardi Gras celebration this year after  police say they’ll be using cameras monitored in real-time to catch crooks and party-crashers. 

But some are wondering why the technology is good enough for Soulard and not other high crime areas.

“He says it’s not a good use of resources, but apparently for an event like Mardi Gras, he does,” said 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French.

French has long been asking for officers to live-monitor the $600,000 worth of camera equipment he had installed on the north side.

The answer from the chief has repeatedly been no.

“I don’t want to get in the business of monitoring cameras on a daily basis in single neighborhoods,” said St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson

When asked why Mardi Gras and Soulard were so different, Chief Dotson said,  “You have to look at each situation independently and make an assessment when you have hundreds of thousands of people coming together, especially for a day or two, I think it’s a good investment.”

Last year, a man was killed by officers after he fired a shot in the crowd but Chief Dotson said crimes like that aren’t likely to happen at Mardi Gras.  And that’s why French said officers are simply needed elsewhere too.

“If we can deploy some resources in those neighborhoods and commit an officer to look at cameras in those neighborhoods, I think it would drive the homicide rate especially down, significantly,” said Alderman French.

Chief Dotson is in talks for a real-time intelligence center to gather camera data from all over the city

But so far that’s a ways off.

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