The number of surveillance cameras planned to keep watch across the city of Sarasota has jumped more than 2,000%.
Originally, the police department had planned to place one camera at Selby Five Points Park and one at U.S. 41 and Myrtle Street, but now more than 40 cameras will be scattered throughout the city — nearly half of them will be placed in the Housing Authority complex in north Sarasota.
Sarasota Police Capt. Jeff Karr is overseeing the integration of the surveillance cameras and said although there have been cutbacks in personnel, technology is helping make up the difference.
“They don’t replace police officers, but they can help investigators solve crimes,” he said.
The police department has installed a wireless surveillance system, which will link the cameras to one source within the department. The $200,000 cost of the system was included in the total construction cost of the new police headquarters.
The department will arrange for some cameras to be monitored at times, while other cameras will be reviewed for evidence only if a crime has taken place.
Other camera locations include the Palm Avenue parking garage, which is scheduled to open in December. Its 18 cameras will not have the pan, tilt and zoom capabilities that the cameras at Selby Five Points Park and Myrtle Street will have.
Nearly $100,000 in grants are paying for the Housing Authority and Myrtle Street cameras. The Downtown Improvement District is picking up the $13,000 price tag for the Five Points camera.
The cost of the parking-garage cameras was included in the project’s total price. And the voter-approved 1% sales tax will pay for two cameras at Payne Park.
One of the Payne Park cameras will be placed at the skate park. The other will be on top of the new police station. Those two cameras will be able to monitor about 80% of the park, according to Karr.
When Fredd “Glossie” Atkins Park was renovated in 2006, 11 cameras were placed throughout the Newtown park. Karr said video evidence from those cameras was used to make arrests for drug dealing and an armed robbery.
“It’s come a lot further than I ever thought it would, at least in my lifetime,” said Karr.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].