Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meeting on 'Big Brother' cameras to be held in a week

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 2:53 PM

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You wouldn't have known it by watching a recent meeting, but apparently City Councilors are concerned about the ramifications of watching citizens in the downtown area.

And they want to know how you feel about the issue.

Council plans to hold a public hearing to discuss putting 10 surveillance cameras downtown to watch citizens. Council may then choose to move forward with the spending, which was recommended by Mayor Steve Bach.

It seems hard to believe that the citizens of Colorado Springs, known for traditionally abhorring government intrusion, wouldn't have some concerns. (The Indy addressed that possibility this week here.) In fact, even Bach has said that he has some reservations about the cameras, but he added that he felt compelled to bring the issue forward after it was recommended by citizen groups.

Bach has said that if the cameras are successful at deterring crime downtown, they could be spread throughout the city.

CITY COUNCIL TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON DOWNTOWN CAMERAS

The Colorado Springs City Council will hold a hearing on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 to seek public input on a proposal to install and maintain surveillance cameras in downtown Colorado Springs. The hearing will begin at 3:00p.m. at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Avenue, in City Council Chambers during the formal City Council meeting.

On March 12, 2012On February 27, 2012, City staff, at the recommendation of the Downtown Solutions Team and SAFE Downtown Committee, submitted a proposal to City Council requesting funding in the amount of $188,025 to install ten (10) surveillance cameras downtown along Tejon Street, from Rio Grande Street to Boulder Street. City staff recommended funding the equipment and maintenance from the General Fund fund balance.

In addition to funding for the cameras, staff requested $23,275 to purchase a sidewalk sweeper. The goal of the expenditures is to create a safer and more vibrant downtown.

“Creating a vibrant downtown is key to our City’s long-term success,” said Council President Scott Hente. “Council wants to have a thoughtful dialogue with City staff and the community about issues downtown and effective ways to address those issues. We know that community support is critical to the success of any program. Based on our own experience and the best practices recommended by the Urban Institute in a study of the use of surveillance cameras in other communities, getting public input is the right thing to do.”

Council has postponed action on the requested appropriation ordinance to allow the community adequate time to comment on the proposal. The first opportunity to schedule the ordinance for action is March 27, 2012. A second reading could be scheduled as early as April 10, 2012. Council will give direction on the ordinance following the hearing.

Comments can be made in person at the public hearing, via email at AllCouncil@springsgov.com or by phone at 719-385-5986.
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