Toledo considering CCTV to deter crime

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TOLEDO, Ohio—Toledo could soon join the list of U.S. cities employing CCTV cameras on the streets, supplementing traditional patrols with data-driven policing.

A proposal announced by Police Chief Derrick Diggs in early December calls for a CCTV system with about 75 cameras, two trailers, security software and monitoring equipment.

The project, estimated to cost $800,000 to $1.2 million, would also establish a “real time” crime center to monitor the video from the streets, according to police Lt. Michael Troendle, commander of the technical crimes division.

“It’s going to start off only being staffed about nine hours a day until our manpower allows us to staff it around the clock,” Troendle said of the monitoring center, which will be located at police department headquarters. “We’re looking at an Internet-based viewer so our dispatchers are also able to pull up (the video) and view it if the need arises.”

The majority of the cameras will be mounted on existing utility poles, but others will be mobile or attached to the trailers to provide surveillance flexibility, Troendle said. All of the cameras will have video recording capability; some will be programmed to recognize the sound of a gunshot and focus on where the sound originated.

Troendle said the project had not been put out to bid, and that the funding would need City Council approval. He said the police department hoped the system would be installed and operating by early spring.

“We have a request for proposal out there now, looking for the best solutions and getting companies to send us what they think is the best way to secure our city through video,” Troendle said in late December. “Our next step is to review responses to the RFP and make a determination on the technology we want, then we’ll put a quote out for the individual pieces we want to buy.”

Specific locations for the cameras had not been determined, Troendle said, but “there are obviously crime factors, shooting factors” and infrastructure considerations. Some of the cameras will be marked with the police department’s logo, while others will be deployed more discreetly.

The proposal for the camera system reflects economic realities that have resulted in fewer officers on the street, Troendle said.

“Obviously we’re trying to leverage technology to help us do the best we can with the numbers we have,” he said. “We’ve dwindled in size, so we need to do something different with the understanding that this will not replace patrolmen.”

The cost of the project would be covered by the city’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is made up of assets confiscated through criminal investigations.