Tampa police continue to use RNC surveillance cameras - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa police continue to use RNC surveillance cameras

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The Republican National Convention left town about five months ago but the dozens of surveillance cameras are still in place. In December Tampa City Council members voted to keep the $2 million worth of cameras in place downtown and Ybor City.

Police monitored the footage for Gasparilla. Captain Michael Baumaister says he used the cameras even before the parade started.

"Early in the morning we did have one incident where a package was left by a worker and he walked away from it," Baumaister said. "We quickly spotted it, deployed units there, and located the owner. Normally, if that didn't happen and it truly became a lost item I'd have to analyze it from the bomb team and that would've delayed the parade."

During the parade, officers watched the footage to get a birds eye view of the crowds. Now that Gasparilla's over, police say officers are not monitoring the cameras 24/7 but instead check the footage when something goes wrong.

"Recently we had a lady attacked in one of the garages," the captain said. "She fought him off. We were able to track his movements with the cameras. He had changed his shirt and changed his look. Something like that in the past good possibility we wouldn't have caught him until next time."

But not everyone is comfortable being watched. When the city first installed the cameras some worried about privacy. Bruce Frechette works downtown by one of the cameras. He doesn't mind the extra police presence.

"As far as a crime fighting tool I think it's beneficial," Bruce Frechette. "I have no problem with them because I'm not committing crimes. I guess if you're a criminal you'd probably say yeah I don't like those cameras."

Police say they placed some of the portable cameras in high crime areas. Baumaister says since the cameras have already been paid off through grant money, they might as well put them to work.






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