How do downtown cameras keep you safe?

Posted at 9:21 AM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 09:21:14-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- How are those new $500,000 security cameras in downtown Fort Myers making you safer?

The city installed 49 surveillance cameras throughout downtown Fort Myers just before New Years Eve, and Fort Myers interim police chief Dennis Eads says the majority are up and running. So how is the department using them?

In the three months since the city installed the cameras, visitors say downtown Fort Myers feels almost as safe as it did before the Zombicon shootings in October.

"It's gonna see everything that we don't see, and there's not enough policeman to patrol the area."

"I  think the cameras make a big difference."

"It never hurts ever have to more police presence."

But aside from peace of mind, what are these cameras doing to help? Specifically in solving crime?

"They run 24-7.  They record 24-7.  They run all the time, whether someone's actually sitting in the control room or not," says Chief Eads.

And he says someone is sitting in the control room during special events drawing large crowds downtown, like on New Year's Eve.  "Someone will be in there actually doing it, watching it.  And also if they see things they can alert the officers down there to it. But on an average night they're just recording."

Recording various streets, with the goal of catching criminals in the act.  "If we hear of something that happens down there we can go back and check the web, and find the person, find the individual, find evidence of it."

In fact, Fort Myers Police recently did just that, checking the video surveillance for clues related to a break-in.  "They're going to help us convict a burglar who broke into one of the businesses downtown and stole some valuables.  And we got him on multiple cameras walking around with the property," says Eads.

And while that case may be coming to a close, the case that inspired the idea of the eyes in the skies -- the Zombicon shootings that left one man dead and several injured -- is still under investigation.

"Have we made an arrest? Do we know who did it? Do we have the person absolutely 100 percent identified? No. But we're working in that direction."

Eads says Fort Myers Police will release new video related to the Zombicon case this week.

As far as the success of the cameras go, Eads is hoping to have more installed throughout downtown, as well as high-crime neighborhoods and busy intersections in the city.