Businesses on Charlottesville's downtown mall are banding together to create a system of security cameras that city council wouldn't pay for. The cameras would create a direct connection to police.
About a dozen business and property owners met with police and a private security company Friday. They want to connect all the individual security cameras along the mall into one network to catch crime in action.
The Downtown Business Association started working on this plan three years ago after city council decided not to use taxpayer dollars to put up security cameras on the mall. This new plan would be entirely funded by private businesses and property owners.
The security company, Kastle Systems, will coordinate all the cameras with the Charlottesville Police Department. Investigators can access all the cameras online and review the recordings when a crime occurs.
Bob Stroh of the Downtown Business Association said, "We're a very safe environment here, but everything we can do to make it safer for our customers and our business people is something we want to see how we can do that".
The security company is working out the details of pricing. Then the Downtown Business Association will take the proposal to property owners. The network could be up and running in just three to six months.
Police aren't taking a public stand for or against the private network of cameras. Lieutenant Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department said, "There's always a legal challenge you have to go through any time you're working with a camera system that is privately owned."
The Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute is demanding these surveillance feeds be kept private and not part of routine police review unless a crime is caught on camera.