Downtown may add cameras

GLENDALE — Extra sets of eyes could soon be watching over the city’s downtown district.

The Glendale Police Department is proposing the installation of surveillance cameras downtown to watch out for criminal activity.

Purchase and installation of the cameras would be paid for with a $50,000 Target Corporation grant, which the City Council is expected to accept Tuesday during its regular meeting.

The cameras — which would be put installed in March — will help launch the Police Department’s Safe City Program, according to a city staff report.

“We are already pretty safe, but what we are talking about is mostly crimes of opportunity,” Councilwoman Laura Friedman said. “Somebody, maybe on a dark street, sees an opportunity to break into a car, and this is exactly the kind of thing that will make them think twice.”

The cameras will likely be installed in a pilot area within the downtown Glendale business district. Police Chief Ron DePompa will review and approve the location of the cameras, which would be mounted along publicly accessible streets, sidewalks, alleys and areas that pedestrians frequent.

Similar cameras are used in other countries to monitor public safety.

“They do really help to decrease crime,” Friedman said. “The bad guys kind of know they’re there and want to stay away.”

The cameras, which authorized police personnel may operate and monitor, would record images only. The images would be archived on servers.

Police, the report states, would then use the images in criminal investigations.

The cameras are expected to provide additional support for the Police Department, where staffing has declined and budget concerns have increased.

Police officials anticipate the cameras would deter crime in the highly dense downtown district, aid in arresting and prosecuting criminals, and monitor pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

“I think it will be a force multiplier,” Glendale Police Lt. Gary Montecuollo said.

Local business reaction to the cameras has been positive, Friedman said.

“I haven’t heard one negative comment — not yet,” she said.

Several local businesses and organizations, including the Americana at Brand, Glendale Galleria, Porto’s Bakery, Nestle Corporation and the Alex Theatre are already backing the Safe City program, according to the city report.

Police plan to develop the camera system into a network in which business owners can link their private digital cameras to through the Internet.

The camera system could increase public safety and stop crime, said President Eric Olson of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Assn.

“I think this will be a worthwhile experiment,” he said.

Private business cameras often record images of thieves, so he said the camera system would provide a set of additional eyes.

Olson said the cameras could be a good tool for public safety in an era of budget cuts and decreased staffing.

The cameras have proven to be successful in catching criminals in other U.S. cities as well as Europe, Mayor Frank Quintero said.

With two major malls, downtown Glendale is frequented by pedestrians and motorists, so he said additional public safety measures are needed.

“I think it’s going to enhance the security in the downtown area,” Quintero said.

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