St. Louis Police to Make Downtown Surveillance Permanent

St. Louis - The police department, which already uses a portable video system for crowd surveillance, agreed Wednesday to help finance the start of a permanent camera network downtown.

It could be operational in May, with St. Louis joining Chicago and other large cities bringing more technology to bear against street crime.

"The cameras will add another layer of security for downtown," said Assistant Chief Stephen Pollihan, who had visited Chicago for ideas. "If it's beneficial like I think it will be, we'll expand the program into the neighborhoods."

The police board agreed to provide $115,000 in asset forfeiture funds for the project. It also approved a contract with IBM to do the work. Ten cameras will be installed around downtown, though the exact locations have yet to be determined.

The department will provide half the $30,000 payment to IBM, plus $100,000 for hardware. Downtown St. Louis Inc. will provide the other $15,000 to IBM and staff to monitor the cameras.

"We hope to be in place by May," Pollihan told a reporter.

He said the wide use of cameras in Chicago, also orchestrated by IBM, is a big hit with police there.

St. Louis' portable cameras have been used for a couple of years at special events where large crowds gather, such as Mardi Gras, Fair St. Louis and the World Series.

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