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Front Page » Top Stories » Security Cameras Will Scan Downtown

Security Cameras Will Scan Downtown

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Written by on August 23, 2007

By April M. Havens
Miami Police Department will install a series of closed-circuit cameras in downtown Miami to curtail crime, control traffic and give an extra eye to homeland security efforts, officials say.

The cameras in Phase 1 will cover Biscayne Boulevard from Southeast Third Street to Interstate 395. They will wirelessly link into police headquarters and be recorded.

Phases 2 through 5 will expand the coverage area into Brickell, down Flagler Street and eventually into Coconut Grove and northern areas of the city, Police Chief John Timoney said.

"We’ve made this a huge partnership-based project," said Tony Utset, executive assistant to the chief. "We have expanded and worked with the AmericanAirlines Arena, the Bayfront Park Trust, CSX Railroad and Metro Dade Transit to use their light poles."

The department is awaiting the go-ahead from the county to place the cameras on county-owned surfaces. Police expect that permission "within the next two weeks," Mr. Timoney said, and the cameras will be installed as soon as it’s granted.

"The primary benefit is it’s meant as an anti-terrorism initiative," Mr. Timoney said. "God forbid that if something happened like in London where a bomb is left on the ground, you are able to see who that person was."

Secondary benefits include identifying people who commit everyday crimes. Mr. Utset said that many times, a crime has been committed and a suspect fled before an officer arrives on scene. The camera system will alleviate that problem, he said.

The cameras, which can zoom, pan, tilt and operate in low light, will continuously feed into headquarters, where one officer will monitor multiple screens, zooming in when a disturbance occurs. Live video from Florida Department of Transportation cameras will feed into police headquarters.