Dallas City Council members are pushing for more police surveillance cameras.
Pressure surfaced Wednesday as the purchase of four mobile trailer mounted mobile cameras was approved.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the first duty for the four new cameras will be watching memorial events for the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
“Then quickly we’ll have the Dallas marathon," Brown said. "If you think about he Boston bombing, at the Boston Marathon, cameras are what led to the capture of those suspects."
Dallas currently has 140 fixed police cameras placed in downtown and uptown areas. Neighboring property owners, donations and federal grants helped pay the cost.
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Brown said the cameras contributed to a substantial reduction in Dallas crime.
“Cameras in targeted areas, not violating any privacy, can be a way to make Dallas even safer,” Brown said.
Councilman Dwaine Caraway started a camera debate Wednesday, complaining that other areas need the same surveillance.
“Mayor, I’ll move on once I know we’re going to be protecting all of the city,” Caraway said.
Equipment has been purchased and installation is underway on 128 more fixed cameras to be installed at nine known areas with active crime around the city.
Brown said a vendor is working as fast as possible to get those cameras operating but installation is complicated since the cameras are wireless and a reliable signal must be connected to the monitoring location downtown.
“That’s not an easy fix with 380 square miles and all these not spots are not next to each other,” Brown said.
Dallas Police have identified 18 more hot spots that could benefit from additional surveillance cameras.
“In Pleasant Grove and in Oak Cliff, we have multiple needs for these type of cameras,” Caraway said.
Other members also want to see cameras in their neighborhoods.
“What do we need and how do we figure this out and what is the cost and put it in our budget,” said Councilman Tennell Atkins.
Some members want detailed crime reduction data from the areas already covered by police cameras.
Brown promises to return with crime data and plans for more cameras.
“We need to be able to tie the results to the camera to decide how much to spend on the cameras. That’s the bottom line,” said Councilman Phillip Kingston.
Brown said just 6 percent of the sprawling Dallas geography accounts for 40 percent of the city’s crime but those individual areas are difficult to watch with patrol officers alone.
“What that tells us is that boots on the ground is just not as cost effective as some combination of officers and cameras could be if you do it right,” Brown said. “I’m going to try to get as many as the city and the philanthropists in the city can afford.”