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Feb 12, 2013 8:53 PM by Eric Ross

Downtown surveillance cameras: Were they worth the money?

The City of Colorado Sprigs spent nearly $200,000 of tax money last year to install surveillance cameras downtown. It was a highly controversial purchase that had many questioning its effectiveness.

From the beginning, police argued they would be a valuable tool to help officers crack down on crime.

So just how well are they panning out?

Police have made a handful of arrests thanks to the watchful eye in the sky. Just last week, a camera near Bijou and Tejon helped police nab a suspected drug dealer at Acacia Park. Officers say it is proof the cameras are paying off.

Last Wednesday, cameras led to the arrest of David Frederick. He was first spotted on surveillance carrying a bag believed to be full of marijuana. When police checked out the scene, Frederick was found with a quarter pound of weed. He was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute.

"Cameras don't lie," Sgt. Jeff Strossner said. "In the case of the narcotics arrest, we download, save the video and place it in evidence."

The video is admissible in court and will help the prosecution build their case.

However, some disagree with the cameras purpose.

"Spending millions of dollars to catch some petty drug offender isn't worth it," one resident said. "People are going to smoke weed. This is Colorado."

There was also a big uproar over whether the cameras were an invasion of privacy. The City ruled against that, gaining support from residents like Cassie Johnston.

"If people feel it's an invasion of privacy, then I guess you have something to hide," she said. "I think they should expand the program. It's a better idea and you can see what's going on."

The 10 surveillance cameras cost the City roughly $188,000. An additional $25,000 a year will need to be spent on maintenance and upgrades.

 

Talks of expanding the program have surfaced, though no definite plans have been put on the table just yet.

 

 

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