SIKESTON, Mo.--If Cape Girardeau needs a model of how to use surveillance technology to monitor after-hours activity on downtown streets, officials need look no further than Sikeston.
Near the end of 2005, the city installed 21 cameras at its schools, downtown area and around the low-income Sikeston Housing Authority. The total project came with an initial price tag of $123,000, of which the city paid $25,000.
Since then, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety has steadily expanded the program and will soon have 32 cameras bringing the total cost to over $200,000.
Both the school and housing authority helped pay for the cameras and each has access to the feeds for their own security use. Additional funds came from state and federal grants.
City officials say the devices are already paying dividends by crimes solved and criminals deterred.
"We want people who are criminals to go somewhere else. We want people to know if they come to Sikeston they better not come here to act up because we're going to get 'em," said Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall.
The cameras, which are operated by a joystick from the control room in the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, are known as PTZ (pan, tilt and zoom). This means they can be shifted around 360 degrees and tilted up or down.
An emergency dispatcher watches the cameras 24 hours daily. The clarity is strong enough to pick out facial features from three blocks away or a license plate number from about a block and a half.
The images are projected on two 42-inch plasma television monitors and digital feeds are recorded on a hard drive and saved for 30 days.
Look for more on this story in Friday's Southeast Missourian.
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