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Published: Sunday, 9/9/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Cameras cast eyes against Toledo crime

Worker at gas station saysnearby installation reassuring  

A Toledo police security camera pod at Locus and Ontario streets is a typical installation. A Toledo police security camera pod at Locus and Ontario streets is a typical installation.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

In the 20 years that Ter­rence Thread­ill has worked at the Clark gas sta­tion at Dorr and Hoag streets, he has seen a few things.

Rob­ber­ies in the park­ing lot and fights there and in the sur­round­ing cen­tral city neigh­bor­hood are not un­com­mon.

When he's work­ing in­side, he's pro­tected by bul­let-re­sis­tant glass. Store owner Moe Alk­ha­t­eeb, on Thurs­day, was car­ry­ing a gun on his hip.

Now, the Toledo po­lice sur­veil­lance cam­era that was in­stalled across the street is an­other se­cu­rity mea­sure, Mr. Thread­ill said. "I think it has made a dif­fer­ence," he  said.  "Ev­ery­one can see it's there."

On Tues­day, Toledo po­lice Chief Der­rick Diggs said at least 20 of the ap­proved 150 cam­eras had been in­stalled across the city. 

On Fri­day, the chief de­clined to dis­close where the cam­eras were in­stalled.

The Blade did its own sur­veil­lance and found cam­eras in­stalled at the fol­low­ing in­ter­sec­tions: Huron and La­grange streets, Mich­i­gan and Wal­nut streets, On­tario at Lo­cust streets, Huron Street at Jef­fer­son Avenue, Huron at Wash­ing­ton Street, 17th and Adams streets, Dorr and Hoag streets, Del­a­ware and Law­rence av­e­nues, Detroit Avenue at Mon­roe Street, Dorr at Coll­ing­wood Bou­le­vard, and West Ban­croft Street at Ash­land Avenue.

Toledo po­lice Sgt. Joe Hef­fer­nan said the cam­eras are be­ing in­stalled in two phases — the first, com­pleted some­time this month, calls for nearly 80 cam­eras to be in­stalled at 40 sites.

The cam­eras, at a cost of $1.6 mil­lion, were ap­proved by Toledo City Coun­cil in March.

Terrence Threadill, who works at Clark gas station at Dorr and Hoag streets, says the Toledo police camera near the station is an added measure of security. Terrence Threadill, who works at Clark gas station at Dorr and Hoag streets, says the Toledo police camera near the station is an added measure of security.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Each ap­pa­ra­tus has two cam­eras. Some of the cam­eras in­clude  spe­cial fea­tures, such as gun­shot and li­cense-plate de­tec­tion.

Po­lice said most of the cam­eras are not yet ac­ti­vated, but some of them are al­ready be­ing mon­i­tored. Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said even­tu­ally, cam­eras will be up in nearly all parts of the city, but place­ment is de­ter­mined by a num­ber of fac­tors.

"One is where we're ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the most crime or where our cam­eras will do the most good given the his­tor­i­cal data that we have," Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said.

Depart­ment of­fi­cials also have to con­sider en­gi­neer­ing con­straints, such as where are "dead zones" and where will a cam­era get a good sig­nal.

If a cam­era was planned for a lo­ca­tion that turns out to be a dud, de­part­ment of­fi­cials can eas­ily ad­just their plan and move the cam­era a block or two to where a sig­nal is ac­ces­sible.

Of­fi­cials also take into con­sid­er­ation re­quests from res­i­dents, which are more com­mon than com­plaints, Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said.

"Sur­pris­ingly we have got­ten a lot of peo­ple want­ing them in their neigh­bor­hoods which … we didn't know how it was go­ing to work out — we didn't know if peo­ple would be re­sis­tant to hav­ing them in their neigh­bor­hoods," Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said. 

"For ev­ery one per­son con­tact­ing us say­ing ‘Keep it out of here, 'much more peo­ple say, ‘Hey, can you put one here?' "

Steve Miller, from the North­west Ohio chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, said nei­ther the lo­cal chap­ter nor state level —  has re­ceived any com­plaints about the cam­eras from Toledo res­i­dents.

"We've clearly taken a po­si­tion in op­po­si­tion," Mr. Miller said. "We think it's too in­tru­sive and not ef­fec­tive. More po­lice of­fi­cers on the streets would be more ef­fec­tive."

Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said the cam­eras are not be­ing used to re­place or sup­ple­ment beat of­fi­cers, but  rather to "as­sist po­lice of­fi­cers while they're work­ing."

Tech­nol­ogy ex­ists that would al­low of­fi­cers to view cam­era feeds on com­put­ers in­side cruis­ers, but that's not some­thing de­part­ment of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing just yet.

Some crit­ics have said in­stall­ing the cam­eras will only push crime from one cor­ner to an­other.

"It is a se­cu­rity blan­ket," Ser­geant Hef­fer­nan said. "Where we have cam­eras, crime is less. Maybe some crit­ics say, ‘You're dis­plac­ing it,' and maybe that's true, that can be ar­gued, but at least where that cam­era is, there is go­ing to be less crime.

"The crim­i­nals know where the cam­eras are. Be­lieve me," the ser­geant said.

Con­tact Tay­lor Dung­jen at: tdung­jen@the­blade.com, 419-724-6054, or on Twit­ter @tdung­jen_Blade.

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