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Mt. Vernon adds surveillance cameras to deter criminals

MT. VERNON (WSIL) — Mt. Vernon is looking to reduce crime with new surveillance cameras installed in locations they have determined as "high crime" areas. The locations were deemed such because of their police-response call volume.

As of Friday, October 25th, 15 of 45 surveillance cameras have been installed near Veterans Memorial Park and they are already proving effective.

"Over the weekend, we had a damage to property incident that was recorded on one of the camera systems," said Mt. Vernon Police Chief Trent Page. "We would much rather prevent a crime than solve a crime, because then it means it happened, and we had a victim — we would much rather be like, Mt. Vernon is not the place to do that."

The City Council approved the installation in August, which is expected to cost $282,000 in its first year. The system gives Mt. Vernon another resource in its criminal investigations and residents in the area say they support the city’s decision. Brad Pickett with PASS Security in Fairview Heights says video is recorded 24-hours a day, seven-days-a week; it can "see" in the dark, track cars, and follow people.

"And then these cameras also have what’s called ‘Appearance Search’," said Pickett. "I could find you on one of the cameras, and (then) it will go through automatically and find you throughout the rest of the cameras on the system and put you on a timeline to know exactly where you’ve been and when you’ve been there."

Chief Page said he has only heard from one resident concerned about the privacy implications. And he says that homeowner was largely concerned on the possibility of the nearby cameras reducing his property value. He adds, the system is a public safety tool and the city wants the public to know the cameras are there.

"We’re not trying to hide these cameras," said Page.  "We want the criminals to go away."

Crews are confident all 45 cameras will be online by the end of the year. The video feed is monitored 24-hours a day from the police dispatch station and the data is stored for approximately one month.

In cases where video is needed for an investigation, all relevant clips can be saved and exported for later use.

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