Could cameras restore confidence in downtown Albany? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Could cameras restore confidence in downtown Albany?

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April 22, 2008

Albany-  Albany leaders say there's a perception that downtown Albany is dangerous and they want to change that.  They're considering a plan that could put as many as 16 mobile cameras throughout downtown to survey the area.

They've considered several proposals and are now working through the budget process to see if the funding is available. Business owners downtown applaud the idea.

Would you feel safer downtown if you knew someone was watching your back? Restaurant owners say there's a real perception among their customers that downtown just isn't safe and it's keeping traffic away.

"We have seen some of our regular customers that didn't want to drive downtown because they think it's unsafe," said Dale Saunders, Riverfront Bar-B-Q Owner.

That's why city leaders are considering a plan to ease those fears. They're looking at the idea of installing 16 mobile cameras downtown that might deter potential criminals and make those who do come downtown feel safe knowing someone's watching.

"I think it would be a great idea, the perception of downtown in the past hasn't been that great. I think it would be a great idea to show people that it is safe to come downtown in Albany," said Saunders.

"To help with the perception overall, I think it's a wonderful idea if the city can find the funds for it," said Donna Miller, Flint River Café Owner.

That's what the city is trying to decide, if they've got the money to fund the idea. Right now, they've just looked at several different camera models and haven't figured out an entire cost for the project. Donna Miller's husband has actually done a similar project for another city and found it worked.

"Prior to the installation of cameras that they were having constant calls and complaints about drug deals on the streets and robberies and once the camera got installed the crime rate just absolutely plummeted and it was a really good thing for the city," said Miller.

When you look at the crime statistics for downtown Albany, they're typically among the lowest compared to other Albany districts. Having someone watching may lower those statistics further and give customers and new businesses the confidence they need to come downtown.

City leaders haven't said when they'll make a determination on the plan, just that they want the cameras to be mobile so they could target potential trouble spots.

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