LAPD to install 38 working surveillance cameras in Downtown
LAPD's Central Division will be installing 38 cameras similar to this one throughout high-crime districts.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — LAPD's Central Division has secured funding and later this month will begin installing 38 new surveillance cameras throughout Downtown L.A. These cameras will replace the broken or failing ones which have been defunct for more than three years now.
The new cameras, monitors and technological set-up is expected to cost $225,000 which the division has secured through an "urban area" federal grant, said LAPD Capt. Horace Frank.
But getting new cameras may not be the hardest part. The previous set was bankrolled by the Business Improvement Districts (BID) in the area, but those cameras weren't adequately maintained or monitored.
This time around, there will be no lapse in operation or maintenance, said Capt. Frank. The department's contractor has agreed to maintain the video surveillance system for free for three years. During that time, Central Division will line up funding to continue camera upkeep.
Capt. Frank said he couldn't announce the name of the contractor yet because the paperwork has not been signed, but he said it was an "established city contractor" who has done similar work throughout Los Angeles.
The surveillance cameras will be placed in Downtown's Fashion District, Historic Core and Skid Row -- locations the police captain describes as "key problem crime locations."
Five five days a week for 12 hours a day, a rotating shift of two police officers will monitor the 38 cameras. Frank said the officers will most likely be those assigned to "light duty," meaning they are restricted from field work because of an ailment or injury.
If these officers witness a crime on a monitor -- for example, a drug deal or a robbery -- they will dispatch officers to the location or track the suspect on one of the many cameras. Capt. Frank said the cameras should allow officers to interrupt crime as they see it.
Downtown's broken cameras came under the microscope last year when a string of Skid Row stabbings took place under a surveillance camera but went unrecorded because the unit wasn't working.
"It is heartbreaking to see a network of cameras gifted to the LAPD sitting idle while perpetrators of violence get away with murder on our most dangerous streets," Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Assn. (CCEA), told the Los Angeles Times last December.
The L.A. Times reports the CCEA previously donated 10 cameras to monitor the Skid Row area.
As of January of this year, the LAPD said that Los Angeles has approximately 300 cameras scattered throughout the city -- in neighborhoods including MacArthur Park, Hollywood and throughout Southwest Division.
Frank said the surveillance cameras in MacArthur Park were a key turning point in the area's safety. He said the units will "absolutely" make a difference in Downtown's crime rates as well.