La Crosse may consider downtown camerasPolice surveillance cameras are becoming more prevalent in cities and towns across Wisconsin.
By: By Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Police surveillance cameras are becoming more prevalent in cities and towns across Wisconsin. La Crosse may be the next place to install cameras in its downtown area.
Last year, a photography shop owner and his son were killed inside their downtown La Crosse business. Police caught the suspect with the help of security cameras from nearby businesses.
In light of this case, a group wants to raise $435,000 to install police surveillance cameras downtown. They say it will make investigations less cumbersome and time-consuming.
La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer says the cameras will help them solve crimes, but it will also cause criminals to think twice.
“By putting the cameras right in the open, where everyone can see them, is hopefully before people commit a crime they see a camera and say, ‘Boy, I’d rather not commit that crime. I’m going to be on videotape and I’m going to be caught pretty quick,’” he says.
Sheboygan Falls Police Chief Steve Riffel is president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. He echoes police officials across the state, who say they’re able to solve crimes more easily with cameras. In Sheboygan Falls, Riffel says police installed cameras after vandalism was getting out of hand.
“The city and the community as a whole decided to place cameras in the parks and actually tell people about it and publicize," he says. "We cut our instances down to almost zero.”
ACLU of Wisconsin’s executive director Christopher Ahmuty says there are a few issues with surveillance cameras. He says police need to be careful with who has access to the video, how long a video is retained, and make sure it’s not used for voyeuristic purposes.