CLEVELAND — Cleveland police officials told City Council Wednesday that they hope to install within the next 18 months about 1,000 high-definition cameras to monitor crime hot spots and areas near the city’s recreation centers.
Chief Calvin Williams said that the installation of these cameras is only the first phase of camera deployment and that he hopes to someday have enough cameras to cover “every inch” of the city.
Williams and other top officials from the department appeared before council’s Safety Committee, which sought an update on the camera deployment.
The city announced last month that it was spending $35 million to replace the city’s street lights with 61,000 LED lights, which are brighter and cheaper to operate. The new lights also provide a platform for additional equipment such as high-definition cameras, which are included in the price tag.
Only a handful of cameras have been installed so far, but city officials have already credited the cameras with solving crimes in the Lee-Harvard shopping district and a shooting in Keruish Park on the city’s East Side.
Several council members asked police officials how they identified the locations for the cameras. Councilman Mike Polensek complained that the police department hasn’t shared the information. He said he worried they would miss high-crime areas.
Councilman Blaine Griffin urged Williams to consider installing cameras in some city parks not connected to a recreation centers where he said crime activity has gone uncheck.
Williams promised to share camera locations with council members and said the installation sights are based on crime statistics and other factors. He said the first cameras will cover high-crime areas, commercial corridors and recreations centers. But he reiterated that the city’s plan is to eventually cover the entire city.
Officials from Cleveland Public Power, which is installing the lights, were also present at the meeting to field questions. Council President Kevin Kelley blasted CPP Commissioner Ivan Henderson for ignoring complaints from residents and his office that the lights are too bright and shine into homes. The city installed several lights in his West Side ward as the test phase.
“Citizens should be able to sit on their front porch,” Kelley said to Henderson. “It’s unfortunate I have to address it here … I still don’t know who the point person is on this project.”
Kelley then invited Henderson to visit his neighborhood at night to stand in light spilling onto the properties of home owners.
Kelley said he doesn’t want any more lights installed in his ward until CPP resolves the problems.