WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve security upgrades in the Old Town area. The city plans to add up to 70 high-definition cameras. The cost of the security upgrades is $750,000.
Wichita Deputy Police Chief Jose Salcido said the project was started with three goals in mind: crime prevention, crime solving, and prosecution.
Deputy Salcido cited a study that found a 51 percent reduction in parking lot crime. The cameras would be used for video forensics, catching a criminal in the act, or identifying a suspect.
Police will be able to live stream the feed in a command center downtown.
“You here that people don’t come downtown because they don’t feel safe,” says Gina Buster.
The plan will also allow for businesses who get their own cameras to hook up to the feed, and choose what cameras they allow the police to watch. Meads Corner general manager, Gina Buster, says more cameras downtown is a big benefit for employee safety.
“Knowing that they have not just us and our security system but they city as well,” says Buster.
But also for people like Amy and Krystal, who sometimes walk down to get their coffee and have sometimes felt a little uneasy walking at night.
“If I came down here or maybe by myself with a friend then I would feel more secure walking around and doing stuff,” says Krystal McMillan.
But where do you draw the line on too much surveillance?
“How can it be private if it is in a public place?”
KSN legal analyst, Dan Monnat, says the camera’s and surveillance are within the legal limits of privacy.
“I don’t think 70 cameras in a public place push the limits of privacy any more than 70 law enforcement officers in a public place,” says Monnat.
So what business will be first in allowing police access to camera’s inside and outside?
“We will talk about that and see if it is something that is in our best interest to do,” says Buster.
Deputy Salcido told the city council that several officers would be trained to monitor the cameras from the command center.
“We would have an officer or two watching the cameras that could see a disturbance. Rather than wait for a bystander to pick up the phone, we don’t have to wait for the incident to get to this point, we can intervene when it is starting.”
The project would be completed by June 2017.