South City neighborhood to raise funds for security cameras, while northside wards struggle with crime

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ST. LOUIS - Neighbors in one South St. Louis community are coming together to keep an eye on crime in their community.

Some people living in St. Louis Hills said that while crime has been down in the last six months, it’s not too late to get ahead without burdening taxpayers.

Julie Donovan said that she feels safe in her community but she also knows that crime doesn’t discriminate.

“October 2017, my daughter was carjacked right here on our street at gunpoint," said Donovan.

Donovan said the terrifying ordeal was her wake-up call to get involved and be proactive with helping to prevent similar crimes from happening again.

Donovan and several of her neighbors are part of a safety committee to raise private money for a total of 19 cameras that would be similar to a city installed and operated camera located on Chippewa and Hampton.  The neighborhood initiative is called the Hampton/Chippewa Technology Project.

The city's police department has hundreds of cameras all over the city that are connected to the Real Time Crime Center.  But those cameras cost thousands of dollars in taxpayer money.

“With private funding, we can get it cheaper and we can get it faster," said Tom Scheifler with the neighborhood association, "and that way we don’t have people being concerned about tax dollars being spent that they don’t want to spend.”

The privately funded cameras will be installed at nine major intersections up and down on Hampton Avenue.

“There are many people who are concerned about privacy," Scheifler explained, "these cameras don’t go into the residential neighborhoods.”

Meanwhile, Aldermen John-Collins Muhammed and Brandon Bosley of north city said, they want cameras in their wards as well. There is one already at the intersection of Vandeventer and Natural Bridge Avenues but the aldermen expressed, it’s not enough.

The men said that many of their communities are riddled with crime, if not, are underdeveloped and that’s why they feel, they don’t have the resources to supplement privately owned cameras like some other parts of the city.

“They have the tax base, they have the population, they have developed communities," said Collins-Muhammed, “the residents I represent are living paycheck to paycheck and they’re struggling to pay bills on their own, I can’t ask them, 'Hey can you give me $100 so we can get some cameras up?' "

“We have about three or four cameras deployed but that’s not enough," said Bosley, "we have over 150 to 200 blocks and it’s extremely hard to manage those blocks when we have a densely populated area.”

The aldermen explained that each ward receives about $300,000 in Capital Improvement Projects, however, that is not enough to also help cover the cost of cameras similar to the ones installed and monitored by the police department since each one can run at a price tag of $20,000 to $30,000.

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