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Fort Myers could install cameras to keep an eye on crime

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson is pursuing the installation of cameras in public places around the city to help keep an eye on crime.

The plan comes more than two weeks after the deadly shooting at ZombiCon in downtown Fort Myers. Authorities have still not made any arrests in the shooting that killed one and injured five others and say having more surveillance footage could have made a big difference in their search for the shooter.

Monday, the city council unanimously agreed that putting up surveillance council is a matter of public safety. The city manager has already begun working to bring in a consultant to look at the areas where the cameras would go to determine how much they will cost. The council hopes to have that information by January.

“They see that progress is being made by the deployment of these cameras, so we give up a little bit of freedom and it’s the world we live in today but it makes us safer,” said Henderson.

Henderson says the ZombieCon shooting convinced him the value of cameras outweighs privacy concerns. The plan is to start installing the cameras downtown and their use will eventually expand to other high crime areas in the city.

“I could envision an opportunity to put multiple cameras, let’s say 15-20 in the River District area, and public places,” said Henderson.

The cost is a concern, and the mayor already has met with Congressman Curt Clawson to ask about federal grants. City leaders are hoping to raise $1 million for the project. They say ideally they would like it to be a mixture of taxpayer money, along with state and federal grants. Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads says whatever the cost is, it’s worth it.

“I think it’s a huge benefit. If they’re in the right place and it’s done properly it would definitely solve crimes or prevent them,” said Eads. “If it could prevent one person from being murdered, it doesn’t matter how much it costs.”

A former police officer warns cameras may not be the answer to everything.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction that’s occurring because of the shooting,” said Ken Simoneau. “They need to be cautionary with that and find all the facts and what occurred first, before spending anymore taxpayers money.”

“Most businesses have security cameras already, and so for public defense, I don’t think it’s a loss,” said resident Lonnie Dorcey.

The city manager will present a formal proposal for buying cameras by the end of January 2016.

Author: mike walcher & kristi gross
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