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Hilltop camera spots alleged drug activity
|Messenger photo by Sean V. Lehosit
|The first safety camera on the Hilltop at the corner of Sullivant and Clarendon avenues installed on Aug. 2.
Four days after the Hilltop’s first safety camera was installed on the corner of Sullivant and Clarendon avenues, the pilot program saw its first series of arrests on Aug. 6.
According to Dan Giangardella, deputy director of public safety for the city of Columbus, multiple individuals were observed standing on the corner allegedly participating in illegal drug activities. Police quickly arrived on scene resulting in three arrests and a car being impounded.
State Representative Michael Stinziano said he has received feedback from the people in the 25th District and has heard nothing but positive things about the cameras.
At a community discussion on Aug. 23 at the Hilltop Library, Columbus City Councilmember Michelle Mills said that, not only are all 12 cameras installed on the Hilltop, but the city is ahead of schedule and readying to begin installation of 35 more on the Eastside.
The $2 million safety camera project is one strategy in an effort to reduce crime within the city, Mills said. She added the city is hoping to see a 30 percent drop in crime in the targeted areas.
Some residents were concerned the cameras would push criminal elements into neighboring blocks that previously had not seen a high amount of those activities.
Mills said the city will look at the results and adapt.
According to Kathy Hoke, coordinator of Wilshire Heights Blockwatch, she and many others are interested in what statistics come from the data.
“I think those of us who are involved in blockwatches will watch closely,” Hoke said. “As a coordinator I see this as a positive move.”
City officials said they are happy with the progress so far. They plan on applying more strategies in addition to those already launched over the last year like the 30 day freeze in scrap yards buying copper coils in April, the most recent Safe Surrender program, and grants awarded to neighborhoods through the Coalition for a Non-Violent Columbus.
For now, Mills said, the cameras are working out great. However, she said some adjustments to the cameras may come this winter when snow and ice interfere with visibility and performance.
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