Opinions about surveillance cameras vary

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Will it be 'big brother', or a big high-tech safety blanket? Opinions vary about the City of Toledo's plan to install 150 surveillance cameras as part of a data-driven policing project.

"I think it's a great idea. People go to the mall every day, they have surveillance cameras to stop crime. This will help the city and the neighborhoods also," says Vernon Hickman.

"I think ultimately we need to be concerned about the big brother aspect of this situation," says Jerry Shelton.

"It could be a good thing or a bad thing, but it's protecting the innocent," says Dan Hall.

Toledo City Council has approved $1.6 million for the project, and police are in the process of finalizing exactly where those cameras will be located.

"We have different types of cameras that have different features built into them like gun shot recognition, and those will go into neighborhoods where we are seeing a lot of gunfire," says TPD Lt. Mike Troendle.

Construction work will soon begin to convert space at the Safety Building into the new 'real time crime center', but Councilman Mike Collins remains concerned about plans to staff that center only during the day shift:

"We're spending $1.6 million and the real utility of this can never be achieved with our current manpower levels."

Lt. Troendle says the cameras will be working for the city even when the crime center isn't staffed:

"All of our cameras will be able to record 24-7, they all have built-in hard drives, and there's also the ability to download video to our crime center."

With funding secured, the next step is to finalize contracts to get work underway to install the cameras and the crime center, with the target of having them operating by the end of May.