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Candidates weigh in on security cameras

Voters will be deciding which candidates to vote for in the upcoming municipal election Tuesday.

In the last public candidate forum, downtown security cameras was a hot-button issue.

The public wanted to know, in two years, how effective these eight cameras installed in July 2011 were at cutting down crime.

Third ward Councilman Gary Kespohl supported the security cameras that voters approved in 2010 from the start.

He said Saturday the cameras were not under surveillance 24/7, but rather, recorded 24/7 and reviewed if crime was reported.

Even though proof of the camera’s effectiveness is hard to come by, Kespohl believes even if it deters one crime, it’s worth the money.

But an American Civil Liberties Union representative opposes.

“I think the cameras have been a tremendous waste of money,” said Dan Viets of ACLU.

The eight cameras take $21,000 to keep up each year, according to the five-year agreement the city reached with the company, ISG Technology, that maintains it.

Viets said the money should be spent instead on improving streets or providing police with more equipment.

“They (cameras) have not solved any major crime that I’ve heard of and I don’t think there’s any evidence that it has deterred or reduced crime either,” said Viets.

Mayor Bob McDavid, a supporter, said Saturday that it is difficult to prove how much crime the cameras have deterred, but that it was a necessary safety feature the city should have.

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