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Local

Security cameras to keep eye on neighborhoods

Council approves purchase of mobile camera system to deter property crimes

The city council approved a project to purchase mobile security cameras as part of “The Neighborhood is Watching” program launched by Mayor Mike Hansen in 2019. The Newton Police Department will install security cameras in neighborhoods reported as "hot spots" but the system can be moved as needed.
The city council approved a project to purchase mobile security cameras as part of “The Neighborhood is Watching” program launched by Mayor Mike Hansen in 2019. The Newton Police Department will install security cameras in neighborhoods reported as "hot spots" but the system can be moved as needed.

Technology may be the tool Newton needs to reduce the rate of property crimes.

On May 18, the city council accepted a more than $29,000 proposal from Wireless CCTV, LLC, of Richardson, Texas, to purchase four, pole-mounted mobile security cameras. This new equipment is the result of “The Neighborhood is Watching” program launched late last year by Newton Mayor Mike Hansen.

The city said a mobile security camera system “can provide video evidence of crime and act as a crime deterrent in targeted ‘hot spot’ areas in the community.”

Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess said the city researched its options for community security cameras and had reached out to other municipalities for feedback and suggestions. The city determined either fixed-base cameras or mobile cameras were their best options for its citizens.

Ultimately deciding on the latter, Burdess said other communities complained the fixed cameras were limited to a specific area of town. Having the option to freely move cameras was more attractive to the Newton Police Department. Conceptually, cameras would be placed in areas based on citizen complaints.

“This would be significant complaints, not just one neighbor calling about an issue,” Burdess said. “This is part of a kind of holistic process of solving issues within a specific neighborhood or at a property … This would be another tool that helps us solve those chronic property crimes, chronic nuisance issues.”

Cameras will provide valuable video evidence to authorities. Since the visibility of these cameras are quite evident, Burdess said they could prevent crimes from occurring. Instead of acting as a covert security system, cameras will be pointed toward right-of-ways in the city. They can also be used for large events.

“It’s just an opportunity to capture what’s going on,” Burdess said. “Instead of wasting police resources sitting in a block just watching what’s going on, this would be, really, a force multiplier and allow us to use this resource in place of an officer doing surveillance for hours on end.”

Originally, The Neighborhood is Watching program was supposed to utilize and provide funding for residents to purchase doorbell cameras for their homes. The program would have been based on a video doorbell company’s program that subsidized the purchase of cameras. However, the program has disbanded.

The mobile systems “can be easily moved wherever they are needed in the community,” city documents said. Footage can also be accessed remotely from a laptop or desktop computer and will be integrated with the police department’s current video management system.

Newton Police Department will notify residents whose neighborhoods will be on watch.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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