City of Richmond proposes wiring downtown with security cameras, asks businesses to chip in

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RICHMOND, Ind. (Sept. 22, 2015) – Richmond wants to wire its downtown with a system of security cameras in an effort to reduce crime.

The city is on the brink of a new transformation with millions of dollars invested into new construction, parks and infrastructure.

“We’re starting to see a reassurance the last four to five years,” John Veach said, owner of Veach’s Toy Station.

In response to the growth, Phillips Drugs has installed four outdoor security cameras in the last month.

The mainstay drugstore wants to be one of the leaders in a movement bringing dozens of security cameras downtown. And that may just be the start.

“I think one of the foundational things we need to worry with, as business owners, is safety,” Peter Zaleski said, owner of Phillips Drugs.

Tuesday the Richmond Police Department explained the idea during a series of public meetings.

Business owners or residents would buy the cameras, pay a yearly fee and allow real-time access to police.

“What we’re asking the participants to do is be co-producers of public safety,” Capt. Bill Shake said, with the Richmond Police Department.

Since the city can’t afford its own system, the videos will be stored in New Orleans, which operates a similar program.

Shake said footage will be stored for 10 days and only accessed if a police report is filed.

The response is to critics who say big brother or big government is watching.

“There’s no audio,” Shake said. “It does not have facial recognition. It doesn’t have license plate readers. It’s simply video, which is no more than anyone standing on the street with their cell phone camera.”

The buy-in, Shake said, is voluntary.

About 30 cameras are expected to be installed downtown in the coming months from businesses ready to sign on, he said.

Eventually police would like to partner with residents, too.

“To see the town grow with safety issues, we need to keep some security in our towns,” Bob Heil said, owner of Hometown Dining Company.

A number of downtown business owners say the move is about prevention.

“When the public knows there’s cameras downtown, I think it will help deter criminal activity in downtown Richmond,” Veach said.

Other major cities like Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago and Baltimore have similar programs.

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