Surveillance cameras monitoring Cleveland Heights benefit police

Starting with the installation of surveillance cameras in the Cedar Fairmount garage a decade ago or more, the City of Cleveland Heights has used cameras to deter crime in the Cedar Fairmount, Cedar Lee, Coventry and Noble Monticello business districts. This summer, cameras were also installed in a section of Cain Park.

Jeffery Robertson, Cleveland Heights police chief, said that the various cameras were installed after conversations among the police department, city manager and city council. “We came up with a plan for different districts,” he said, and estimated that the first cameras were installed in the Fairmount garage in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Decisions to install cameras are part of an “ongoing process,” said Robertson.

Brad Sudyk, deputy chief of police, said most cameras have been installed within the last three to four years.

The cameras are in parking garages in the Cedar Fairmount, Cedar Lee and Coventry business districts, and they are on streets in the Cedar Lee, Coventry and Noble Monticello business districts.

Cameras in some locations are high-resolution, but even lower-resolution cameras enable police officers to zoom in on subjects. Robertson and Sudyk said that the cameras in the business districts and Cain Park provide footage that is clear enough to enable police to determine the general descriptions of subjects.

The cameras are monitored 24 hours a day so that police can respond to crimes in progress. They record all activity, so police can review video of crimes or car accidents. Also, some police officers can access camera footage on their cell phones as they travel to crime scenes, according to Robertson.

In June 2012, high-resolution—and high-profile—cameras, with bright blue lights indicating their locations, were installed on Lee Road. The police department used surveillance video and other evidence to connect a suspect to a series of break-ins in the Cedar Lee business district in September 2012. Sudyk said that the cameras benefit police investigations and prevent crimes. “Criminal activity has decreased because of our surveillance cameras,” he stated.

Shawn Paul Gustafson, owner of Shawn Paul Salon on Lee Road, said that the constant monitoring of his district makes him feel at ease. “Any form of [police] presence, whether it is remote by camera or walking down the street [feels comforting],” he said. “I like it.”

Adam Fleischer, owner of The Wine Spot on Lee Road, stated, “They make the street a lot safer for the community in general.”

Steve Presser, marketing and publicity director of Coventry Village Special Improvement District and owner of Big Fun Toy Store, said that he and other Coventry business owners talked to the city about crime deterrents prior to the installation of surveillance cameras in his business district. He said that the cameras are beneficial to Coventry because they increase police interaction with the merchants.

Members of the Cain Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) also had discussions before cameras were installed in the park. But residents have mixed thoughts about them, according to Peter Titas of the CPNA. “We’ve had representatives from the police department at our meetings. The general consensus seemed to be that cameras were a good idea, and we made that known to the city,” Titas wrote in an e-mail. “However, there are residents who feel like the cameras are intruding on privacy.”

In spite of privacy concerns, police plan to install surveillance cameras in other areas of Cleveland Heights. “The expectations are that we can put them as many places as possible,” Robertson said.

“They’re great deterrents, and they make the community a lot safer,” Sudyk said.

Simone Jasper

Simone Jasper is a 2012 graduate of Beaumont School. She studies print journalism at Elon University and is an intern at the Heights Observer.

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Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 4:26 PM, 07.31.2013