COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The city of Columbus is going to continue using portable surveillance and lighting systems at some city parks, extending the original $500,000 contract the city had for the technology, which was set to end this month.
Columbus City Council approved Monday to spend another $550,000 that’ll allow the city to keep using the cameras for another year.
“They’re an integral part of our strategy to make sure we have eyes where there are problems in the parks,” said Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, who is the chairperson of council’s Public Safety Committee. “We want people to feel safe going to our parks, we have over 400 of them and we want people to understand they can go out and enjoy a good time with their family.”
The city is renting 25 of the cameras. Council approved the original contract after four shootings at parks last spring.
“Parks are not the criminal’s playground, so we want to ensure a safe environment for all of our community members and know that’s why we put the cameras out there, the lighting, so we can have that extra visibility in hopes of deterring that crime so the parks can be enjoyed by the people who should be enjoying the parks,” said Lt. Kyle Scholl with the Columbus Division of Police (CPD).
CPD and the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department work together to determine where to place the portable systems, Scholl said.
“We look at calls for service, we look at violence, we take input from rec and parks staff,” he said. “We look at all the parks collectively, not that one park is more important than another park. We’ll continue to analyze the data, we’ll continue to talk with our partners with rec and parks and determine where the best locations will be for each of those cameras.”
Some of the cameras have been at Westgate Park. George Pritchard takes his grandson there two to three times a week. He said he wanted to see the city keep using the cameras.
“It’s a wide space, it’s open, there doesn’t seem to be anybody around. That’s where the cameras come in, that’s a nice idea,” he said.
Another Westgate resident said he’s OK with the cameras but wishes the city would come up with a more permanent solution for the crime.