Houston police pondering surveillance cameras
Facing a shortage of police officers, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt has called for surveillance cameras on downtown streets, apartment complexes and shopping malls.
The Houston Police Department is struggling with a manpower shortage as well as a spike in violent crime. To supplement officers on patrol, HPD is considering installing five video cameras downtown, Hurtt said. He also suggested that new apartment complexes and malls be required, as part of the building-permit process, to provide security cameras, The Houston Chronicle reports.
The downtown-camera project already has a group to fund it: the Houston Downtown Management District. Once the cameras are installed, the project would be carried out by the police department. Officers would monitor video feeds from a new storefront office planned for downtown.
“It’s going to be a lot less expensive than having officers standing in those locations or responding to all those calls,” said Hurtt, who wants to have the cameras up by the end of this year. “What we need is a combination of technology and human resources to deal with this issue.”
The Downtown Management District, which works to improve the central business district using taxes paid by downtown property owners, has proposed five sites for cameras at high-pedestrian-traffic intersections.
The emphasis on new police and surveillance is part of the city’s response to a recent spike in violent crime.
It was up 2.3 percent through November 2005, compared with the same period in 2004, though the overall crime rate was down 2.2 percent.