Parkland to decide on widespread surveillance cameras

Surveillance cameras could eventually be mounted at every intersection in the city. But Parkland’s politicians want a bit more information before they shell out hundreds of thousands to do it.

The cameras that police could use to document license plate information “leave an impression,” said Commissioner Jared Moskowitz.

He said dozens of cameras could capture more information that two officers, and the cameras might serve as a deterrent to criminals. “I find this extremely intriguing,” Moskowitz said.

If Parkland decides to buy the cameras, they will join Hillsboro Beach and Lighthouse Point, which already have the system in place. Parkland is looking at placing 38 cameras at 10 intersections.

On Wednesday night, the commission agreed to ask Lighthouse Point police for their data to show exactly how many crimes have been solved, and what the “cost-benefit analysis” has been.

Lighthouse Point Police Cmdr. Michael Oh said 26 cameras have been in place since February 2010. He said the city recovered $175,000 worth of stolen cars and other property taken in burglaries last year alone.

He said a civilian police employee monitors the tags and sends alerts to police officers in the area.

“We’re very happy with it, it’s helped us out immeasurably,” Oh said. “When someone drives in with a stolen tag, we get an alert.”

But there’s a cost to consider: the set-up fees could be upward of $300,000. And the police said they’d rather use that money to hire more people.

Parkland Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Bryan Cowart told the commission that “boots on the ground is more effective in combating crime.”

“One cop in the field who is going to talk to people is going to be more proactive than 38 cameras,” said Commissioner David Rosenof.

Moskowitz wasn’t swayed, saying the choice isn’t between cops or cameras. On Wednesday the commission agreed to spend $250,000 to add two more deputies to Parkland’s district, which already includes 32 people.

He said if the commission opts for cameras, it won’t happen before the next budget cycle begins.

He doesn’t want the police to feel the need to compete with cameras: “I don’t expect any toll worker to say they want more SunPasses,” he said.

lhuriash@tribune.com or 954-572-2008

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/parkland/fl-parkland-surveillance-cameras-20111103,0,3699772.story?track=rss

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