9th Ward getting new ‘Crime Center’ cameras next month

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – A number of new, high-tech security cameras will soon focus on the streets of St. Louis.

As the city invests in technology to make St. Louis safe, cameras in the 9th Ward will make it harder for criminals to hide from police.

Friday at the Real Time Crime Center, the city announced plans to put up 36 new cameras next month. Twenty of the cameras will have pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities. The others will be license plate recognition cameras.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said it’s not just about pictures, but also data; the linking of technology to make the city safer.

“In order to be successful in the 21st century, technology must be embraced by law enforcement and it must be embraced by the communities that we serve,” Dotson said.

The police department has 500 cameras in the Real Time Crime Center, which are monitored 24-7. There are 100 cameras that the traffic department already has installed, with an additional 200 traffic cameras to go up later in the year. They read the plate of every passing car and instantly run them through a national database of vehicles involved in felonies.

“We can do this because the city has installed over 92 miles of fiber throughout the City of St. Louis since about the year 2000,” said Deanna Venker, Commissioner of the St. Louis Traffic and Lighting Department.

Since the inception of the Real Time Crime Center, police have made more than 300 arrests due to the license plate reader hits: 844 charges resulted from the arrests, 143 stole vehicles recovered, and 29 firearms recovered.

“We want the public to know the cameras are out there and we want the bad guys to know the cameras are out there,” Dotson said.

The half-million dollar investment in cameras and technology in the 9th Ward will affect neighborhoods like Benton Park, Benton Park West, McKinley Heights, Soulard, Mount Pleasant, and Marineville.

“It's pretty easy when you see crime stats, you want to put them in and the other important thing you want to put them where the fiber is, because I wouldn't get any cameras,” said Alderman Kenneth Ortmann (9th Ward).