Surveillance Cameras Help Cut Crime in Columbus Neighborhoods


The hookers, drug dealers, and other bad actors who used to loiter on a Columbus corner near Fred Tompkins' house have found other places to hang, says the Columbus Dispatch. They don't like being watched. Five neighborhoods have been under surveillance by Columbus police cameras for the past year. Tompkins, 74, a former block-watch organizer, said the cameras, coupled with police patrols, are doing a good job of reducing crime. The camera at one intersection has “cut down on the loitering, but not all the way,” he said. “This was a corner for prostitution and drugs.”

A year after more than 100 cameras were installed at a cost of $2.2 million, crime numbers have dropped in several categories in most of the neighborhoods. The Weinland Park area saw the biggest change — a 46 percent drop — from 228 offenses to 122. Last fall, the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center issued a study of cameras in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., showing a significant impact on crime when monitored by a trained staff and in the right locations. Lead author Nancy La Vigne said that Columbus' strategy is well-considered. “It sounds like Columbus is doing something right because they're considering when the incidents of crime are most likely to occur,” she said. “They're targeting their resources.”

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