Wichita police will have more and sharper electronic eyes on Old Town with the launch of the first phase of a new security surveillance system.
On Thursday, officials announced that a dozen high-definition cameras have been installed, and reporters were given a tour of a new monitoring and command center at City Hall.
“We have taken that system live,” said City Council member Janet Miller, who represented the council at a news conference announcing the change.
The new center has 10 video screens and can accommodate as many as four officers or volunteers. Some of the screens are set up to display feeds from multiple cameras.
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By the end of summer, the $700,000 project will have 70 cameras. That will give police near-total coverage of Old Town with cameras that can zoom in close enough to read a license plate, said police Chief Gordon Ramsay.
“This is a very exciting day for the Wichita Police Department and the citizens and businesses of Old Town,” Ramsay said.
The City Council approved the system in an effort to cut down on fighting, shootings and other misbehavior, which periodically flares up on weekends outside bars and nightclubs.
Video from Old Town will be used to direct officers to spots where trouble seems to be brewing and will be archived to help police investigate crimes that might be missed by the live monitoring, Miller said.