The City of Sarasota has a large number of surveillance cameras to help keep the community safe.
It seems like a good idea, right? Well, it doesn’t help that many of them are turned off, and they haven’t been working for nearly two years.
Early Sunday morning, a 17-year-old was shot and killed on Gregg Court.
Once Sarasota police rushed to the scene, they scoured the area for clues.
A huge help could’ve been provided by two surveillance cameras nearby, but the cameras are not working, and police say they haven’t worked since May 2017.
Cameras are dotted all over Newtown, a predominantly African-American community, and many are worthless.
“A rape happened right over there last week,” said one resident.
Locals are angry and concerned.
“You can’t sleep at night when you ain’t got no backup. Cameras is backup, you know what I’m saying?” a resident said.
Neither police nor city officials would speak on camera. But a city spokesperson tells 8 On Your Side there are more than 170 cameras scattered throughout Sarasota, and many of them are in the Newtown community.
Officials don’t know exactly how many cameras aren’t working.
“It’s very frustrating, especially since the money has been allocated to have them overhauled, or bring in new cameras in,” said resident Jetson Grimes.
The cameras were installed in 2010. But they were operated by many different departments. Some stopped working because of age, or because their transmissions are blocked by new construction.
“In any community, you want to feel safe and I think with the cameras and being functional, you do have a better feeling of being safe in your community,” said Grimes.
The city has now set aside $100,000 to assess the cameras. They plan to fix them and operate them under one single department.
The city released this statement-
We are working to streamline and improve the camera program by centralizing coordination and oversight. The City anticipates that a firm will be under contract soon to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the cameras to determine functionality. Some of the cameras no longer work due to age, wear and tear, as well as technology and the interference of new buildings being constructed. Once a vendor is in place and the assessment is complete, determinations will be made for camera repairs, replacements, improvements and continued maintenance.
City commissioners still need to work out the details, but they hope to take it up at a meeting in the near future.