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Bloomington police adding extra cameras to fight downtown crime spike

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Police in Bloomington are tackling crime with technology. Soon, more cameras will be watching over the downtown streets.

“The criminal out there sees the cameras--we are hoping they take their criminal offense someplace else,” said Steve Kellams with the Bloomington Police Department.

This past summer, downtown Bloomington saw a significant spike in criminal activity. Officers responded to an increased number of disturbances and drug overdoses near Kirkwood. Businesses, residents and students saw the trouble too often.

“It just makes it really difficult for people to have a good time when there are other really serious issues happening,” said Katie Stoker with Café Pizzeria.

The four or five new cameras will nearly double the amount of security cameras the Bloomington Police Department currently operates.

Money from a $21,000 grant will cover the new cameras, which police plan to install downtown. Exact locations aren’t yet known.

“We are going to look at the data, the information that’s coming in and the complaints and types of calls we are getting. (We’ll see) where those high concentration of problems are and that’s going to help determine where those cameras should go,” said Kellams.

By adding more cameras, investigators won’t have to entirely depend on lower quality surveillance footage they may or may not get from nearby businesses.

“We know the quality we are getting out of these videos. We know the ability to use it. We know its coverage, we know what area it's pointed at. We know it’s going to work. These are all important things to us that help with that investigative tool,” said Kellams.

The cameras are recording 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Footage is stored on a central database.

“Some people may be afraid like they’re privacy is being breached maybe, but I feel like especially in a college town it’s important for safety reasons,” said Danielle Hughes, senior at Indiana University.

Cameras will not be permanent and will be able to move if a specific area is seeing more problems.

“We’re hoping these cameras will allow us the opportunity to if not deter then find out afterwards who committed that crime and get them in jail to keep the community safe,” said Kellams.

Police expect to have the new cameras installed by next summer.