Lakewood Eyes Surveillance Cameras... For Businesses
The city of Cleveland provides incentives for businesses to buy cameras to deter petty crimes. Lakewood would like to do something similar.
A July 2011 story in the Plain Dealer told the story of how a man was caught on surveillance cameras stealing from a business on Madison Avenue in Cleveland.
A series of five surveillance cameras — belonging to neighboring businesses — tracked the man from the seen of the crime to his apartment five blocks away.
Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers took note of the story.
He clipped it out of the newspaper.
Every once in a while, he’ll bring up the topic as a way to discuss the idea of community policing.
Last Friday, Summers again brought up the topic at the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“The point is that private networks can be an important element of how we protect ourselves,” he said. “If individuals would protect their own property at a higher level… we’d be at a much better starting point.”
“All these tools aren’t going to replace police forces, but they are force multipliers — they help our officers do more.”
The city of Cleveland provides about $300 in cash incentives for businesses to buy a camera, which cost about $1,200 apiece.
“I’d love to do something like that, but we’re not in a position to do that,” Summers said. “It’s just another piece of a puzzle. My hope is that we could begin a more serious conversation about the next step.”
Like many of the crimes in Lakewood, the ones that cameras would deter are what Summers calls “crimes of opportunity,” which include robberies and thefts.
“They are irrational crimes,” he said. “The yield is very low, but the stakes are very high. It makes no sense to go to prison to mug someone for 10 bucks.”
“If people think ‘I am going to do it and I am going to get away with it,’ I think we can change that.”
Lakewood Police Chief Timothy Malley recently told Lakewood Patch that the cameras generally don’t catch criminals, but said they serve as a deterrent.
Before he took over the mayor’s post last year, in his role as CEO and president and CEO of Summers Rubber, Summers installed six cameras at the Berea Road facility for $1,800, which included unlimited DVR and Web access.
Summers is quick to point out that the city cannot endorse a vendor. But the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, or LakewoodAlive, could promote the idea to local businesses.
Right now, the city has a few cameras in its commercial districts, as well as at Madison Park.
“Detroit and Madison (avenues) are 5 miles long,” he said. “Two cameras just isn’t going to do it.”