Cameras planned for Greene Square and other locations
After a presentation by Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman, security cameras and other security measures will come to Cedar Rapids in the Future. The plan involves proactive policing and is funded by $1.6 million in revenue collected by traffic violations. A core part of the project will be the installation of cameras in Redmond Park, the downtown area and Greene Square. Especially, Greene Square has been plagued by crime, including a fight that resulted in the death of a man last week.
"Cameras are just one part of a comprehensive strategy to sort of take the park back and remind people everyone is welcome to use the park but we need to have some rules in place," Todd Dale, the city council member who represents district 3 said.
Dale has worked on improving the city's parks in the past and is part of a group that had recommended cameras. While security is a major concern for him, he wants to improve the overall park experience for everyone. Along with cameras, he also wants clear signage of what you can and can't do at the park, as well as improvements on the overall structure.
"Anybody that has the perception that they are not safe in downtown or Greene Square or in any of our other parks that's wrong," Dale said.
While addressing the council, Jerman said there is no clear plan on how cameras will be operated. The process will include figuring out what and when the cameras will record and how much is monitored by police. According to him, Greene Square already has fiber optic lines in place to install cameras but the city had lacked funds in the past to install those. The police department is now working with the city's public works department to see how they are operating their traffic cameras around the area to learn more on how security can be improved.
Liz Deegan, a teacher at Jefferson High School often comes to the square with her kids. She generally feels safe, but agrees that cameras could potentially increase the sense of security for everyone using the space.
"Given that this is such a valuable space we want people to feel people safe coming here." Deegan said. "And I think having cameras to be able to monitor the activity in the park is a good thing."
Others have seen the park change and are worried but they agree, cameras will improve the downtown area.
"It's very important to me especially if I have my younger daughter with me, it gives me more of a sense what's going on around here," Emily Nash said. "It's been a little different lately. I thought it was a little bit more secure around here."
The city is also looking into assigning a permanent police presence to the downtown area to improve visibility and community relations. There is no clear timeline for the installation or total cost of security cameras around Cedar Rapids but the city said it's one of their top priorities for the coming months.