COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – This week marks the first full week some Columbus city parks will have new surveillance cameras in place to help fight what has been a particularly violent spring in the parks.
The city decided to rent them after several shootings – three of them fatal – at Columbus parks throughout the spring.
Columbus is renting 25 cameras, and due to security reasons, the city won’t say where they all are, but they have been seen in a few parks.
Police hope the cameras will work as a deterrent to keep crime out of the parks.
“We live out here on the west side and we just like to come to the parks and they really enjoy them,” said Romero Ranson, who gathered with family at Westgate Park Monday.
In May, a 19-year-old was shot and killed at Westgate Park, a trend in the city that has been worrying Ranson.
“When I first seen it, I didn’t want to allow my children to go anywhere, so I would tell them, like, don’t take the babies over to the park to swing no more,” Ranson said. “It’s just not worth it.”
Ranson said the new cameras are making him feel better, part of the reason the family felt OK having their Fourth of July celebration at the park.
“It’s really good to have the cameras out here, to give more security and better eyes open for our community around here,” he said.
After six shootings, three of them fatal, at city parks during the spring, the city agreed in May to rent 25 portable cameras, which police can access remotely. Since that vote, there has been another fatal shooting at a community center.
Columbus Police Commander Robert Strausbaugh said police and the city’s rec and parks department determined where the camera are placed.
“What we’re hoping is, for the residents, that it brings a little bit of peace of mind,” Stausbaugh said. “What we’re really hoping for is the criminals will say, ‘There’s a face now. We have to be careful about what we do.’ Stay out of our parks, the parks are for the kids, the parks are for families.”
The cameras were placed in the parks last week, with community members saying they’re already seeing a difference.
“It feels more safe,” said Columbus resident Kyniah Pearson. “Ever since the cameras are up, there’s been more people actually outside and playing.”
“I’m glad to see these cameras out here and I’m glad we’re out here having a safe time, no problems,” said Columbus resident Leonard Woods.
The city’s rental agreement lasts for six months and, according to Strausbaugh, will cost approximately $194,000.