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New Surveillance Cameras Go Online In Downtown Dallas

Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – When thousands of people are expected to crowd into Dallas for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Dallas Police will have some special, new cameras.

There are only four of them mounted on trailers.  Their portability makes them useful from graffiti surveillance to crowd control at major events.

“I think the first use of the purchase is to provide a camera network in and around the JFK 50th and then soon after that the Dallas Marathon, given what happened at the Boston bombings,” Police Chief David Brown told the Dallas City Council on Wednesday.

At their regular agenda meeting, council members approved nearly $155,000 to bring them into service.

“I’m sure I speak for all my colleagues that we want to give you every piece of equipment you ever need to do your job,” Councilman Philip Kingston told the chief.

That triggered a wider discussion on the future use of cameras in crime fighting.

Dallas Police currently monitor 160 cameras, all but 20 of them in the downtown area.  But there are many more in the pipeline.

District 8 Councilman Dwaine Caraway says he wants to see more throughout the city, but especially in his district.   “There are areas that I would love to identify that will become the first priorities,” Caraway said.

The first cameras were donated in 2007 by and for downtown businesses.  Downtown Dallas, Incorporated was instrumental in getting that initial purchase.  “Frankly, if it’s not clean and safe, ain’t nobody coming,” Downtown Dallas, Inc. President and CEO John Crawford told CBS 11 News, speaking of the interests of downtown business owners.  “And there was a period of time where there was a perception that it wasn’t safe; that’s no longer the perception.   And part of the answer to that has been the installation of all the cameras downtown 5-years ago.”

And more donations are coming beyond downtown. Chief Brown says there are 27-hot spots citywide that need permanent surveillance cameras.

Safer Dallas/Better Dallas is set to give police a $300,000 donation from 7-11 later this month.  “This additional funding that will be announced October 1st will get us to outfit to hotspot #10 which means we’ll have 17 more to go.”

Downtown Dallas, Inc.’s Crawford sees an expansion city-wide.

“Basically, at this point you’re going to see the expansion of cameras throughout the city ahead of a whole list of new locations downtown.    Because we think we’ve got the hot spots (downtown) covered.”  Chief Brown told the council the downtown area has seen a 41% reduction in crime between the cameras’ introduction in 2007 and crimes reported  in 2012.   But he observed overall crime in Dallas is down significantly—45%.

CBS 11 News just learned about another big donation that could lead to even more cameras.

$350,000 from an anonymous donor will be formally announced next month and Safer Dallas/Better Dallas says the money can be used for cameras or any equipment the police department feels it needs.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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