Ypsilanti Township expanding public surveillance camera program
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Ypsilanti Township is expanding a public surveillance camera program piloted in the West Willow neighborhood to several new locations.
In response to a spike in the number of home invasions in the Smith-Lakeview area off of Grove Road, township and law enforcement officials chose to place cameras in strategic locations near where the break-ins have occurred.
At its Sept. 2 meeting, the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the township placing three new cameras in the area.
Officials say they hope to expand the program township-wide but don’t have funds to do so yet.
Mike Radzik, director of the township’s office of community standards, said Washtenaw County sheriff's deputies and neighborhood watch representatives report that juveniles were seen carrying merchandise from the north side of Interstate 94 to the south side of I-94 via a pedestrian bridge. The bridge enters the neighborhood around Tyler Road and Rosewood Street on the north side of the freeway and near the Gault Village Shopping Plaza at Georginia Drive on the south side.
Cameras will be placed on utility poles on both sides of the freeway.
“The neighborhood watch reported that residents watched juveniles with merchandise using the pedestrian bridge," Radzik said.
The cost of the cameras is $14,226, which will come out of the police fund, and they will be installed in two to four weeks.
The cameras are fixed in place, cannot zoom, only record public places and do not face any homes. They are wireless, transmit images via cellular service and are attached to DTE Energy-owned utility poles.
The metal pole supporting the cameras can be moved and re-attached to a different utility pole if necessary.
The township now will have 10 cameras in place, including the other cameras in West WIllow and Harris Park. Radzik called the program a success and said officials are working to find a funding source to expand it township-wide.
“Ideally we would put camera systems in every neighborhood and business district,” he said. “That’s the goal — to expand township-wide. But it has to be a well thought out expansion and we’re figuring out the best way to get there.”
The best example of the camera’s effectiveness came when they helped authorities catch a sexual assault suspect in West Willow. New West Willow Neighborhood Association representatives previously said they believe the cameras are deterring crime.
Sheriff’s office officials have also said the cameras are an effective tool.
The township is discussing partnering with Willow Run Community Schools to help it install a camera system for a lower cost at Holmes Elementary School, Radzik said. He said the district has reported a long history of vandalism there, and it would be cheaper for the district to use the township’s servers, which can support up to 35 cameras.
The township would install the cameras for a one-time fee, and school officials and police authorities would have access to the footage.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.