Gulfport Could Try Camera on 49th Street

 

Criminals on 49th Street could soon contend with surveillance cameras. At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Ward Three Councilwoman Jennifer Salmon and Mayor Sam Henderson supported exploring the idea of a surveillance camera along the 49th Street corridor.

 The city would not point the camera into a home or onto private property, City Manager Jim O’Reilly told council. He will research the costs and feasibility of installing a surveillance camera on a trial basis to determine its efficacy.

 Mayor Henderson long opposed the cameras, but Tuesday night he said he had an open mind and wanted to explore the idea.

 “It’s not that I’m opposed to [using] cameras as well [as other measure,” Mayor Henderson said. He said he had concerns about criminals breaking cameras. Lieutenant Joshua Stone said that Baltimore, who had success with cameras, initially underestimated the cost of maintaining cameras. Even so, he said the city saved money.

 “For every one dollar they spent on cameras, they saw a societal savings of $1.5,” Stone said, explaining that “societal savings” meant crime-related spending.

 Mayor Henderson said he would like to see a trial area “if it’s cost effective.”

 The camera discussion came as part of a larger discussion about 49th Street.

 Since 2004, 52% of all reported robberies have occurred along the 49th Street Corridor. Of those, 59% occurred at night.

 At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Lieutenant Stone presented council with several suggestions, including upgrading the lighting along the corridor.

 “There is no silver bullet, and there are no guarantees,” Gulfport Lieutenant Joshua Stone said about 49th Street.

 “We can’t say it’s going to do it, but it’s an option,” Lieutenant Stone said. Currently the city has low sodium vapor lighting on 49th Street; Lieutenant Stone said a Rensselaer Polytech study showed that street lighting improvements “improve the feeling of safety and possibly reduce crime.”

 “It has the lowest cost, but it has the poorest color rendering,” he said of the city’s current lighting. He explained that not having accurate descriptions hindered criminal investigation.

 Between 49th and 52nd Streets from 7th Avenue to the marina, Gulfport has 800 lights. The city could replace these with LED lights, which Stone said would use less lumens and provide better visibility. The city could also install metal halide lights, which would offer better lighting than the current lighting but not as good as LED. Metal halide lights would cost less, he told council.

 Lieutenant Stone said the city police chief, Rob Vincent, would not recommend surveillance cameras unless the city had public support, although, Lieutenant Stone reported, some parts of Baltimore saw a 20% decrease in crime with surveillance cameras.

 Ward Four Councilman Michael Fridovich supported brighter lighting on 49th Street but not on the side streets; Vice Mayor Dan Liedtke appeared not to support any of the police-suggested ideas.

 Mayor Henderson said he favored metal halide lighting on 49th Street wanted to move criminal investigations to 49th Street and have police there at night.

 As a next step, City Manager Jim O’Reilly will gather cost information about upgrading to metal halide lights on 49th Street and “examining the possibility” of using one surveillance camera on a trial basis in a test location and LED street lights on a small scale. He will also look at costs associated with adding a position to the police department so that the 49th Street Community Resource Officer can devote 100% of his time to 49th Street. Staff will also look into moving the criminal investigation department from the current police building to 49th Street.

 Council rejected adding four officers for a street crimes task force and sending an officer to a county-wide violent crimes task force.
 
Read more from: Gulfport News
Member Opinions:
By: JuanHappicampa on 6/27/13
On the issue of cameras on 49th street that was addressed in the last City Council meeting for budgetary parameters. ( I just had time to view the meeting)

Josh Stone made two important points that I suspect under any other circumstance Mr. Dan Liedtke would consider a priority.

1- studies have demonstrated that the use of cameras reduce crime by 25%,
2- that for every dollar $1 spent on cameras a $1.50 is saved.

If this is the case, and if every City now using cameras have monitors, and we mirror a program after other successful cities, then the cost of the cameras could actually pay for themselves in part or in full. The argument that Liedtke made that (he thinks the population is being monitored too much) is simply and ideological position that contradicts the reality that he exists in. The building that he made this argument from had cameras for his security. The compound he lives in has surveillance and guards. He's in favor of cameras in the marina, and in the city service center, so has he now decided that it would be safer if we removed those cameras because we have too many? My observations of his position on this matter are that he doesn't shy away from his own contradictions.

As to the statements made by Mr. Fridovich, well, who can argue with a guy that took a ride in a police car and was the President of a Neighborhood Association in Atlanta Ga? I would have never guessed that we weren't Baltimore Md. Thanks for the laugh.

Can we get a recount; this Councilman seems more interested in introducing us to his vast experiences than he is addressing the problems that have deterred interest and investment in his ward.

Mr. Henderson made me aware that safety in the Community Center was a concern when he mapped out a broad plan of having someone in the Center at night, by having on duty officers rotate through the building to assure the occupants safety. I'll give him credit for at least hearing what Mr. Stone said and giving the idea of surveillance an opportunity to prove itself. Having someone in a dual capacity role looking at stoplight footage and monitoring cameras was an original thought, and I thank him for his effort.

Mrs. Brown said she wasn't in favor of cameras but gave no explanation as to why. I hope that she will explain herself sometime.

Let's say that they purchase a camera for recording only. (No one to monitor the live feed) They publicize that Gulfport now has cameras; the announcement alone, in other cities, has deterred crime. Like having a "Beware of Dog" sign or an "ADT" sign on your lawn.

The camera would provide evidence, as they do everywhere else, that evidence saves investigation time and prosecution costs. The camera might only capture a vehicle exiting the City after a crime has occurred, but it would be a valuable tool if by chance the cops now knew what kind of car, or the general description of a person running across the street, to start their investigation.

I would like to thank Councilman Salmon for her time and trouble on this issue. I want to thank Officer Stone for his research and presentation, and the Chief for giving him the directive. I hope that Mr. O'Reilly finds a way to at least afford one camera, portable perhaps, to test. Committing $10,000 for a portable camera that has already proven itself elsewhere is far less than $147,000 on lighting. A multi-level approach to addressing the issue is most likely the best bet, and having the tools to use when you need them could prove to be the most successful approach.

The days of turning your head away from the problems on 49th street are over. If you want to know what's really going on... look, listen, and think beyond your own ideological contradictions.
You can't be a representative of this City and say I don't want to see what's going on because I fear Big Brother and expect the public to take you seriously.