DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Law enforcement agencies are turning to the skies now more than ever before as they add more surveillance cameras trained on city streets.
Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow says cameras are primarily used to reference things that have already happened.
Cameras are also becoming useful for live events.
“It allows us to keep an eye on what’s going on live,” said Barlow. “Should something happen, we can revert back to the recording to see what we may have missed.”
Barlow started installing city-based security cameras 5-years ago. He plans on adding a new camera each year.
“We have a lot of major events here that go down Main Street,” said Chief Barlow. “Main Street is basically what we have covered. With the Air Force Marathon and the 4th of July Parade and other events that we have, it closes down the streets.”
Barlow says the department pays $3,900 per camera system, which includes the camera, enclosure and connecting it to the city’s system. Barlow says the department also pays $35 a month, or $420 annually to an outside company to store the images the cameras capture. That money comes from tax dollars.
“That’s general fund money that comes from the tax base. It’s like paying for your cell phone. It’s a cost of doing business,” said Chief Barlow.
However, if you walk through downtown Fairborn, you probably won’t see the cameras that you are paying for. “You should not be paranoid,” said Barlow. “These cameras are like the DVR at home. They are recording 24/7. Unless we have a reason to be looking.”
“It would be nice to see them,” said Edie Scott, a Fairborn resident. “That way there is like a disclosure. Like, hey..we are watching you.”
No matter what city you live in, a lot of residents have the same question.
2 NEWS asked Chief Barlow, “Do you think that with these cameras residents should be worried about their privacy?”
“Everybody has their own opinion,” said Barlow. “Everyone has their own feelings about privacy. But, we are very aware of the fact that people do want their privacy. We respect that.”
Respect. A word that both police and residents echoed.
“I respect that way of thinking,” said Medway resident David Nill on why people might have privacy concerns. “Most of them think it is the first step to more and more surveillance. Which we know does happen,” said Nill.
The City of Dayton has more cameras than Fairborn, some right off Xenia Avenue in the Twin Towers Neighborhood. 2 NEWS made several attempts to get information from the Dayton Police Department about the cameras, asking questions like how man cameras are functioning, where are they located, how much do they cost and are there plans to add more cameras. The City never responded to any of those questions.
Most residents in the Twin Towers neighborhood did not want to talk on camera but told 2 NEWS that they were indifferent about having cameras overlooking their doorsteps.
“They make me feel like, you know, if you are not out here doing the wrong thing, you don’t have anything to worry about. If you are out here doing and dealing drugs. You better watch out,” said Cassandra Kauffman.
“I think it’s for our own protection,” said Barba Swinford. Swinford gets around downtown Dayton by her electric wheelchair.
“I crossed the street just a little bit ago and this lady came within inches of hitting me,” said Swinford. “If there is an accident or something. Someone can say they didn’t run the red light. They hit me instead of me hitting them.”
Chief Terry Barlow points to an incident on December 12 in Englewood. Dispatchers were able to watch cameras and give live feedback to police trying to track a shoplifting suspect from the time he left a local Walmart.
“When you have the network of cameras that they do, the ability to run them very affordably, to pull it up very easily, that’s the Cadillac of what most law enforcement agencies and cities would love to happen,” said Chief Barlow.
The Englewood Police Department didn’t want to elaborate on their cameras.
“Being close to I-70. We see these crimes all the time. We are fortunate, thanks to our camera system a lot of the time we are able to find and capture these people that do that,” said Sgt Mike Lang of the Englewood Police Department last December.