As many as 60 surveillance cameras are being installed on Fort Worth's east side, including nearly three dozen in the Stop Six neighborhood, police say, as part of a $2.5 million pilot program to improve the quality of life in the area.
The announcement came Thursday during a news conference with Fort Worth police and District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens.
The program is the result of feedback from Stop Six residents who said they were concerned about high crime, poverty, neighborhood upkeep, education and economic development. The camera part of the program cost about $195,000 and will be the first step in addressing high crime in the area.
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"People who live in Stop Six are accustomed to hearing gunshots, sirens, all types of sounds that indicate something bad is going on. I can tell you they welcome the cameras. I've yet to talk to anyone who has spoken against these things being installed," Bivens said. "In the area of crime, we knew that we needed more than human eyes."
East Division Capt. Michael Shedd said about eight cameras are currently up and running on the east side, including four or five in Stop Six - though as many as 35 are planned for the neighborhood and 60 on the east side.
Shedd said police are not publicizing the locations of the cameras because they hope to use them to capture criminals committing crimes and not just push crime into other parts of the city.
Still, Shedd said most of the cameras are not very discreet and are can serve as an obvious reminder to both law-abiding citizens as well as criminals that police are watching. In addition to the more overt cameras, Shedd said the city is also using covert cameras that are more discreet.
"Some of the cameras we want to be a little bit more secret than others. Want some of the camera locations to be known so people feel a little safer," Shedd said.
All of the cameras are monitored in real time at the department's Real Time Crime Center where officers can move and zoom the cameras at will. Shedd said the quality on the cameras allows officers in the RTCC to zoom in close enough to read license plates. Officers in the field can monitor the cameras via a smartphone app, but the camera movements are controlled by officers in the RTCC.
While the cameras are mobile, officials said they plan to leave them in locations for six to eight months at a time and then reevaluate where they can best be utilized.