BALTIMORE (AP) - The city council of Baltimore on Wednesday approved a $2.9 million contract for the installation of security cameras in three of the city's high-crime areas.
Mayor Martin O'Malley called the network of cameras a ''force multiplier'' for the police department. The cameras would be monitored around the clock and officials hope they will act as ''scarecrows'' deterring crime, he said.
He predicted that communities would ''build personal relationships with the cameras come to covet them like a community center or police patrol.'' But the cameras will not be forced on any community that does not want them, he said.
By mid-May, a stretch of East Monument Street should be under surveillance, according to the city police department's Technical Services Chief Kristen Mahoney. Cameras on sections of Greenmount and Park Heights avenues should be on line by September.
The nearly 80 new cameras will be posted on 30-foot poles with 13-foot arms extended over the street and will cover up to three blocks in each direction.
''These are street-level cameras that support the effectiveness of communities and police officers in reducing violence,'' Mahoney said.
The city's port, portions of downtown, Greektown and Johns Hopkins facilities are already monitored by camera.
The joystick-operated cameras will be able to pan, zoom and rotate 360 degrees, Mahoney said. They will be posted on Monument Street from Chester Street to Edison Highway, Greenmount Avenue from Federal Street to 25th Street, and Park Heights Avenue from Springhill Avenue to Northern Parkway.
More than half of the funding from the project comes from assets seized from drug dealers, according to the mayor's spokeswoman Raquel Guillory. The remainder comes from U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security grants.