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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 07, 2012, 06:47 PM

City of Fargo moving closer to downtown cameras to fight crime

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Some business owners are fed up vandalism in Downtown Fargo, and are pushing to get the problem solved. Police say they have a solution - installing cameras on street corners to catch illegal activity.

Some business owners are fed up vandalism in Downtown Fargo, and are pushing to get the problem solved. Police say they have a solution - installing cameras on street corners to catch illegal activity.

As Bryce Kulas prepares fresh-made dough at Sammy's Pizza, he tells us weekends downtown can be trouble.

Bryce Kulas – Lives above Sammy’s Pizza: "A lot of little crimes like graffiti. I mean come on, grow up. It's childish."

Sammy's Pizza sees its share of vandalism in the alleyway behind the building.

Teresa Tilock – Sammy’s Pizza Owner: "You have to walk by that every day and go, ah man, I don't know how I am going to get it off."

The vandalism goes beyond graffiti. Just last weekend someone struck this car, keying the sides, smashing the hood and slamming something into the windshield. Police say the easiest way to stop suspects from these senseless crimes is installing cameras here, on the street corners. Police say they'll be big, obnoxious, and impossible to miss.

Lt. Joel Vettel: "Vandalism, as frustrating it is for the victim, it's even more frustrating for us because oftentimes there are not a lot of leads."

Police say the birds-eye view from these cameras could be crucial, so they're reaching out to businesses and downtown tenants for their reaction.

Lt. Joel Vettel: "We have no interest in trying to force this on those groups."

Back at Sammy's, the owner has a whole list of why she thinks cameras would help.

Teresa Tilock: "I think for the protection of our community, to make the police's jobs easier."

Kulas agrees.

Bryce Kulas: "As long as downtown keeps growing the way it is, we are going to need it."

Those opposed to cameras say it's an invasion of privacy, and reminds them too much of Big Brother. Police are working with the Downtown Community Partnership, who is planning to meet with businesses and do research before picking a side.

Police say they have an immediate fix to downtown concerns. Every week, police administration and officers touch base, to see where patrols are needed most. There will be extra staff on hand depending on events, the weather, and crime trends. On the average weekend, between 12 and 16 police officers are on the clock.

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