Local alderman seeks resources to man city’s surveillance cameras

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 11:57 PM

 (KMOV) -- Two dozen cameras have been scattered on the city’s north side over the past few years, paid for with $600,000 of resident tax dollars.

 “No one is watching none of the cameras? That feels like a waste of money,” said Lynn Weaks, a resident of North St. Louis.

Twenty-first Ward Alderman Antonio French told News 4 they are definitely not a waste. The recorded tapes have been used after the fact to help solve murders, rapes and robberies.

But he said the benefit could be doubled if an officer was watching live.

“There’s frustration sometimes that the camera just missed something. Or if the camera had only zoomed in it would have caught a license plate,” French said.

He’s repeatedly asked for just one officer to man the cameras during high-crime hours. He’s even offered to install the equipment at the police station, but the chief has refused, saying he’d rather keep cops on the streets.

But to French, that logic is flawed. He thinks these cameras keep eyes on more of the most dangerous areas.

“To me it doesn’t seem like a stretch to say this is an area we need to keep an eye on,” he said.

French said as a last resort, they’re considering hiring off-duty cops to watch the cameras.

The police department is also looking into a plan for a centralized technology center, but it’s more than a year off.

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