In response to a series of stories published by 10 News and SaintPetersBlog about the St. Pete Police Department all but ignoring the surveillance cameras Mayor Bill Foster insisted be posted in the city, City Councilman Karl Nurse has introduced a new business item before the Council requesting that the Mayor actually develop a plan “to use police cameras to fight crime.”
Nurse’s request comes after a report by 10 News showing that St. Petersburg has experimented with surveillance cameras in recent years too, but the technology has yet to provide the city with any tangible results. St. Pete spent roughly $10,000 on approximately 10 cameras and uplinks in 2009.
Not only can police not attribute a single arrest to the cameras, but they don’t have anyone monitoring them. Mayor Bill Foster admitted the technology’s value is limited without monitoring.
“Do we have the data to show they’ve been a great deterrent?” St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster asked rhetorically. “Probably not.”
This report was followed up by comments from Gene Webb, a longtime manager (now retired) in the Police Department who was tasked with implementing the use of cameras, but said “there was no organized effort to implement and use the technology.” Rather the Department ‘stonewalled’ and selectively implemented the cameras.
How Foster plans to answer Nurse’s request remains to be seen. Foster says St. Petersburg hasn’t had the money to move its surveillance program past the pilot stage.
Still, Nurse is determined to see the issue resolved.
“There are a number of drug hot spots that make life hell for the honest residents in my district,” said Nurse.