Surveillance cameras credited with cutting crime, giving police -

Surveillance cameras credited with cutting crime, giving police more eyes on the street

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- Fourteen cameras now cover the 21st ward, where Alderman Antonio French says violent crime is down by more than half. He credits, in part, the installation of surveillance cameras that capture crime even when witnesses won't come forward.

Inside the 21st ward command center, cameras record around the clock, keeping an eye on every hot spot known to police. They just captured jaw-dropping video of a drive-by shooting on Lee Avenue in September. Just last year this very street saw four murders.

"And of those four murders last year, there were no arr rests because no witnesses would come forward, and the difference this time was that camera," French says.

And you don't have to be in the office to see the evidence. The ward's police officer is equipped with an iPad that allows her to patrol several streets at once -- all with the touch of a fingertip.

"What we're really trying to do is change the culture around this area," French says. "We're letting the criminals know that they're not getting a pass by doing crimes in this area anymore."

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says it's working. In fact, she'd like to see more of the city under surveillance.

"There are many instances where video footage will help investigators solve a crime, and then later on when the case goes to trial, that's terrific evidence for the jury," Joyce says.

New cameras are now going up at O'Fallon Park. City leaders think the cameras could become commonplace as more and more criminals are brought to justice after they were caught with photographic evidence that they can't deny.

"Help solve them, help convict the perpetrator," Joyce says. "They're just an all-around useful tool to have."

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