MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The latest crime fighting tool for the Minneapolis Police Department doesn’t involve more cops on the ground, but it does involve more eyes.
Mobile cameras have been set up around the city at spots that have seen more crime, and one of those places is Peavey Park in South Minneapolis at the corner of Franklin and Chicago.
“This particular corner of Peavey Park had the most crime of any park in the state of Minnesota up to about 16 weeks ago,” said Bob Albee, a longtime resident of the area. “It was a very hostile place.”
Gangs and drug dealers owned this spot for decades, but everything started to change when Minneapolis police put in a mobile camera. They say that crime is actually down 75 percent.
“I expected an impact from the law enforcement effort. I expected an impact from the community using the park. But I’m surprised by the impact the cameras and lights have had,” said Inspector Lucy Gerold with the Minneapolis Police Department.
The camera records footage, and an officer monitors what the camera captures. Gerold said that this camera has been a big deterrent to crime.
“People have reported to me that this is the cleanest Peavey Park has been,” she said. “The bright lights take away the shadows in the dark corners where criminals want to conduct their activity. If there’s a bright light, you can see what I’m doing. If I’m a criminal, I don’t want to be seen, so I’m going to go elsewhere, or I’m going to quit committing my crime.”
Peavy Park is not the only place in Minneapolis that is getting a mobile set of eyes.
A camera has recently been eyeing a construction site. It’s been burglarized multiple times, and police are hoping to catch the people responsible. They also put up a camera at a Minneapolis home, where retaliation was expected following a homicide.
“It’s another crime-fighting tool,” Gerold said. “We can’t be everywhere at once.”
There have been multiple community events in Peavey Park since the camera went in. Children enjoy the playground while others play ball on the field. People aren’t afraid to visit the park anymore.
“It feels a lot better to know you can be outside and be with your kids,” said Karen Wettanen, who brought her boys, Andrew and Jayden, to the park to play on Friday afternoon. “I think it makes it feel safer for the kids, for them not to come outside and ask, ‘What is that person doing?’”
The camera has helped pushed out the bad, allowing the good to flourish.
“It’s now a time that people say, ‘We have our park back,’” Albee said. “The camera is very much welcome.”