Large police departments, like Cleveland, have been using city owned surveillance cameras for years. Now, it’s a trend showing up in the suburbs, like Lakewood.
A vandal spray-painted vulgar words on the windows of a Lakewood boutique in October. She also spray-painted “repent” on the business.
Surveillance video from the shop wasn’t enough to identify her.
Lakewood police did have a description of her clothing.
Police searched their vast surveillance camera system and found video of the suspect walking on Madison Avenue, from several different angles near the boutique.
After being Identified, she was arrested, forced to make restitution for the damage and placed on probation for one year.
“The camera system gives us the ability to review situations that occur and look for evidence or look for suspects,” said Lakewood Police Tim Malley.
Malley said there are four dozen cameras throughout the city. All 48 cameras can be monitored in the dispatch room of the police department, and in the chief’s office.
But most importantly, the cameras supply video for police to refer to after a crime in order to help them solve the case.
A bank robbery was also solved this way several months ago.
“We use the cameras a lot and in investigation of crimes that have already occurred, and we have been very successful in being able to go back and find evidence and suspects that are part of the crimes,” Malley said.
Besides solving crimes, Malley said the cameras are a deterrent.
“It has a natural deterrent effect for criminal activity. I also think it makes people feel safer that they know, even though they may not see a policeman right there, there’s a policeman somewhere that might be watching,” Malley said.
Police can use the video to find leads or share it with the news media to generate tips.
But what about privacy concerns?
Malley said the cameras are being installed in public places like busy streets, intersections and parks.
“We’ll make sure with our policy that the people monitoring the cameras are bound by public areas, public activities, and places where people congregate. Those are the places they’ll be monitoring. The cameras have signs on them, blue lights on top of all of them, so everybody can see that the cameras are there,” Malley said.
Lakewood plans to add 18 cameras next year, bringing the total to 66.
The Cleveland Police department also has a camera system, but said they don’t divulge how many cameras they have around the city.