Columbia Security Cameras Aim to Prevent Disturbances Downtown

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COLUMBIA - A month after the Columbia Police Department installed four security cameras downtown, few in the area either have noticed them or see a need for them.

However, Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine said the city and the police department installed the cameras as a deterrent for those looking to cause problems late at night. He said police can better prepare for crimes and outbursts from the advanced notice the cameras provide.

St. Romaine said it's the job of one police lieutenant to monitor the cameras, and he can do so at any time. A few people who live nearby said this violates their privacy. However, the purpose is to watch for destructive behavior and disturbances.

St. Romaine said the cameras are "conspicuous" and are at the top of various light poles.

The four new cameras are located in areas where the police have received past calls for service, many of those being downtown bars like the Field House. 

St. Romaine said, "As you might expect, a lot of those calls were late night hours, especially when some of the bars and late night establishments were letting out."

The intersections are Hitt Street and Broadway, Tenth Street and Broadway, Tenth Street and Cherry Street, and Ninth Street and Cherry Street.

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Business owners downtown said they have not noticed whether the cameras have reduced problems.

St. Romaine said the cameras are a "pilot project" that will capture data for the police department. The project cost $75,000. St. Romaine said businesses that helped pay for the construction in Alley A are interested in installing cameras in that area as well.