New downtown camera system is proving its value
Main Street program helped to pay for it
A new kind of sentry is keeping an unblinking eye on activity in downtown Fort Dodge 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Actually, we should say that there are multiple unblinking eyes keeping watch, because this new sentry is a network of security cameras.
Since the camera system went live late last year, the footage it records has been used by police on at least six occasions to make arrests or collect evidence. That kind of result is pretty impressive and the system has only been operational for a couple of months. The system may be expanded with the addition of more cameras.
The concept of a downtown camera system had been discussed by the leadership and members of Main Street Fort Dodge for at least a year. The downtown organization partnered with the city government to make it a reality.
On Aug. 23, 2021, the City Council hired Iowa Fire Control, of Fort Dodge, to install the system at a cost of $195,176.29.
The system is being paid for in part by Main Street Fort Dodge. It is perhaps a little different from the usual Main Street initiatives that focus on historic preservation and economic development to create a more vibrant downtown. But it is also a project very in tune with the big picture of Main Street projects. After all, deterring crime is a pretty good way to create a more vibrant downtown.
During a recent Main Street Matters meeting, several owners of downtown businesses indicated that they were happy to see that their buildings are covered by the new system.
The concept of security cameras often prompts criticism that somehow they will be used to invade people’s privacy. The reality is that such cameras already exist in all kinds of places. Many private businesses have them inside and outside of their buildings. What is happening now is that a camera system will be able to view a bigger area, rather than just the sidewalk outside one business.
Nationally, incidents of anyone improperly using video or images from these kinds of security cameras seem to be few and far between. But videos and images of people and vehicles recorded by cameras have repeatedly been used to solve crimes and make arrests.
We believe the benefits of having this new camera system in place will far outweigh any perceived negative aspects.
We also commend the partnership between Main Street Fort Dodge and the city government that made this system possible.