Because a high-crime Tampa neighborhood (Florida) experienced a reduction in violent crime after the installation of a camera surveillance system, officials are expanding its use.
Using a $1.3 million Federal grant, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office installed 20 highly visible closed-circuit cameras called the "Eye on Crime" system. It monitors a 3-square-mile area. Since the cameras became fully operational in the spring of 2010, overall crime has dropped approximately 20 percent. The area covered by the cameras is where the most high-level crimes and street-level drug dealing was occurring. Before the installation of the cameras, there was an inordinate amount of violent crime in the area, including street robberies. The cameras are clearly visible by design. In the belief that resident awareness about the surveillance system would deter the commission of crimes in the monitored area, signs announcing the presence of the cameras were posted, and police talked with community leaders and residents about the location of the cameras. Deputies monitor the cameras at the district headquarters. The cameras can also be accessed from patrol car laptop computers. The cameras can zoom, pan, and monitor a 360-degree field of view. Video can be stored for 30 days or more. Since its deployment, evidence obtained by the cameras has been used in more than 600 investigations and has assisted in solving numerous crimes, including robberies, burglaries, illegal drug cases, and a homicide. For the most part, crime was not displaced to another neighborhood without the camera surveillance; however, there were a few areas where crime increased slightly. In the fall of 2012, $500,000 from the State Law Enforcement Trust Funds funded six more cameras in the district and two license plate reader cameras along two traffic corridors.
Date Published: April 1, 2013
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