Columbus to install high-tech crime-fighting cameras


Another Indiana city plans to install crime-fighting cameras.

Indianapolis already has dozens of them, making people think twice before committing crimes. But in Columbus, police plan to put in more high-tech cameras that can even help police prevent a neighborhood threat.

From his brightly lit porch, Chris Rutan sees a lot.

"I'm the leader of the neighborhood watch. We maintain a 24-hour watch," Rutan said.

In the not too distant past, none of what he saw in his 9th Street neighborhood was good.

"There was a stabbing in apartment #4 a few years ago. We would be calling police every ten minutes. It just wasn't safe here," he said.

But even the neighborhood watch can't see everything, which is why an extra set of eyes improved safety there. A real-time camera was installed at the 9th Street Park in Columbus. It's connected to police officers' iPads, so they can see exactly what's going on.

"If the neighbors can't watch, the camera's going to," Rutan said.

The camera senses when someone's there after hours and sets off an alarm and speaker, telling people to vacate the area. It's also captured criminals.

"After the stabbing, the camera was able to pinpoint exactly who it was, which way they ran what type of vehicle it was and played a critical role in prosecuting them," Rutan explained.

Its success prompted Chris and his neighbors to ask the mayor and police for even better cameras in more areas of the city. The department is proposing about dozen more, to be installed in the spring.

The 9th Street Park would get an upgraded camera. New cameras would also go in at 11th and Washington streets and 4th and Washington streets downtown, plus at Morningside Park.

They're all high-definition and all able to be monitored from laptops in officers' cars. They'd be used for investigations, but also as active crime deterrents.

"It's really a force multiplier for us. We can monitor various locations without having to have officers in the area," explained Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix.

Those new cameras are so high-tech that they can search for certain sizes or colors of cars to match a suspect description. They can even recognize patterns, if the same car keeps stopping at a park at a certain time, for example.

Neighbors say it'll make Columbus safer.

"We're just hoping these cameras will implement that level of security in all parts of the city," Rutan said.

Because near Chris's home, they already have.

"Neighbors are no longer afraid to live at 9th and Wilson," he said. "Everybody does feel safe because of the camera."