Woman funds home security cameras as dying wish to make Soulard safer

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Ruth Howard loved the Soulard neighborhood. It's why she made it one of her final wishes to do something to ensure its safety for generations to come.

"She loved the historic nature of it she loved the community coming in and taking care of these blighted buildings and now here we are 25 years later" said her daughter, Judith Howard.  "She wanted to make sure that we were protecting everything that we put into it over the past 25 years from the neighborhood and community perspective" Howard said.

Howard's business in Soulard was broken into in January, around the same time Ruth's health started to deteriorate.  It was then, that she knew exactly what she wanted her lasting legacy to be.

"She thought through deciding what she wanted her legacy to be and it was really clear to her at that point that she could really make a difference and it was something that wouldn't take an insurmountable level of effort but something that would be really kind and helpful" said Howard.

Through her mom's lasting wish, Howard started the Mom Howard Loves Soulard Cameras initiative, equipping any homeowner in Soulard with security cameras for free as long as they agree to help use the cameras to work with police when crime happens and to help keep the streets safe.  So far, 55 cameras have been purchased for 20 homes.

"She was very committed to again being able to actually leave a legacy that would make a difference to a community of people that she really enjoyed their company throughout her life" said Howard.

The initiative comes at the same time a neighborhood initiative is being announced that will see the installation of 16 cameras around Soulard all tied into the St. Louis Police real-time crime center.  Howard says her initiative isn't to compete, but to compliment and help achieve a larger goal.

"These are cameras that are going to go in alleys and the alley spouts as well as those off streets where there just isn't a lot of attention all of the attention is necessary with these other programs that are going on they'll be incredibly successful" said Howard.

Mom Howard died last month but her lasting wish to help make Soulard a safer community is just coming alive.

A benefit will be held on Mother's Day at Howard's in Soulard with all proceeds going towards the program.

Howard posted the following for people interested in the camera program:

1) How to qualify for Mom Howard cameras

  • Are you a Homeowner on this map?
  • Do you currently have Wi-Fi?
  • Do you have a smart phone?
  • Are you willing to register your cameras and share your contact information with Police and the SRG Safety Committee?
  • If you answered 'Yes' to all questions above, we'd love to install Mom Howard cameras on your home!

2) What exactly will be installed?

  • Arlo 1080p Wireless and Battery operated cameras with night vision and motion detection.
  • Wireless booster for your HSD (if necessary)
  • Additional rechargeable batteries and a charging station for extra batteries
  • Each home will receive one camera for the front and one for the back (Alley side). If the home is a corner lot, 3 cameras will be installed.

3) Does this conflict with the current Camera programs sponsored by the SRG / SBA?

  • Nope.
  • Mom Howard's theory is that business have cameras, and the SRG fancy cameras are going around the parameter/high-traffic areas of Soulard. Her idea was to cover the side streets, alleys, street parking, sidewalks, etc. in areas that are more residential. When places are burglarized, the police track the route taken by the bad guys. We will be giving them this map of all the side street cameras, so if a crime is committed, we can better track and capture the description with more data from the residents. As she said, 'it’s time to raise the bar for security and protect the beautiful homes and people in Soulard.' Seems like a great plan that might just be good for everyone and enhance the existing safety programs that are in place.

4) How do I participate?

  • If you would like Mom Howard to watch your corner of the world, send an email to judith.howard@att.net and include:
  • Name
  • Address (w/ cross-streets)
  • Contact Phone #
  • We will respond with a Consent to Register and work out a time to install. If we run out of $ before every homeowner that wants one before they are installed, we'll raise more. Mom Howard has purchased 50 cameras to be installed at 22 homes so far.

5) What if my house isn't on the map?

  • I am glad to share any information on what to install and I will even help install it. I would also love to help you register your camera with Police and your neighborhood association, as well.

6) How do I donate?

  • We are having Mom Howard's Celebration of Life on Mother's Day. We will have a buffet-style brunch and patrons can pay whatever they'd like for food, 100% of food proceeds will go towards the Cameras to buy more.
  • GoFundMe is set up for those who are out of town or can't make the fundraiser.
  • If you pooled a cash collection like my buddies at work, I will add it to the gift fund.

7) What if I already have a camera?

  • Have you let the SRG Safety committee know about it? If not, send an email to judith.howard@att.net, and I'll make sure to give a consolidated list to Officer Min bemin@slmpd.org (our neighborhood Officer) and add your residential cameras to the map.

Police need information to solve crimes, this will help organize the information for them.