The city of Coral Springs, Florida will be installing security cameras at the intersection of University Drive and Atlantic Boulevard soon. If all goes according to planned, the cameras will help catch criminals and prevent would-be criminals from committing crimes.
"I want this at every intersection so if we're looking for somebody, we are able to follow their progress and stay on top of them. What I envision: there is a robbery, we pull up the camera in that area, you can follow [the car] in a system of cameras, and say 'he passed through this intersection and took a right.' And on DVD is that suspect at the bank driving away which is a beautiful piece of evidence to go to court with," said City Commissioner Tom Powers.
Atlantic and University was chosen because it is the city's busiest intersection. Unlike nearby Pembroke Pines, the cameras will not be used to catch traffic violators.
Forfeiture money will be used to purchase the cameras, not tax dollars. What is forfeiture money? It's money collected by cities after arrests from suspects who are later convicted and it comes mostly from drug-related crimes. Powers said of the funding, "The beauty of this is the money will come from forfeiture money, so criminals are paying for technology to catch other criminals." On average, Coral Springs gets between $250,000 and $400,000 in forfeiture funds each year.
A number of other nearby cities are also looking to prevent crimes with cameras, but with more specific goals in mine. In Lighthouse Point, Florida, poles have been installed at the town's 26 entrances and exits. Eventually, each pole will have a camera. While Coral Springs is planning to use their surveillance system to prevent crime, Lighthouse Point Police Chief Ross Licata says their cameras will be used to monitor license plates, in order to find stolen cars and wanted felons. "We're not using it to track the general public to see them coming and going, we're not using this to write tickets," he told the Sun Sentinel.
Though they may have different goals and budgets with what they plan to do with their camera systems, all of the cities do have one thing in common, the hope that the cameras will deter crime. "If there's a chance of getting caught, [criminals] will think twice about it. Rudy Giuliani put more police officers on the street, and crime went down. It doesn't mean more people got caught they were afraid of being caught," Powers said of the camera system's desired outcome.