You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township expanding public surveillance camera program

By Tom Perkins


Officials suspect thieves are using this pedestrian bridge leading from the Gault Village area to the Smith-Lakeview neighborhood to escape the area after home invasions.

Tom Perkins | For

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


Mike Klobuchar

Tue, Dec 11, 2012 : 9:02 a.m.

Individulals provide their own best security and how any government that purports to govern efficiently needs an "office of community standards" run by a former cop is beyond me. it is no surprise he wants a camera in everyone's face.

The Secret Team

Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 5:34 a.m.

Let's put audiovisual surveillance cameras in all Ypsi Township government offices and the offices of the County Sheriff and the local court systems. How many WCSD sheriff deputies have been convicted of criminal activity the last few years? Quite a few. Remember the Clifton Lee, Jr. incident dashboard videocam that resulted in a federal grand jury indictment; one deputy convicted and several deputies faced disciplinary proceedings. How many Washtenaw circuit court officials have been charged recently with felony criminal offenses ? At least one. Video surveillance in the circuit courthouse could have helped in that case. Remember when Ann Arbor City Prosecutor Robert West got nailed on the dashboard videocamera of a Sheriff Department cruiser? Great video and helped get a conviction of operating while impaired. I love the idea of placing audiovisual surveillance equipment in all city and township halls, police departments and court buildings. It has the potential of capturing valuable evidence of criminal activity.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

Our founding fathers would refer to such things as tyranny. And who watches the watchers? Who cares, your right, until someone decides to use it against you. These are the types of things the Nazi's did with the first computer systems. Your ok, until its too late and those in charge decide to flip the script on you. Someone will eventually use something innocent against you and by then it's too late. Go to the United Kingdom and ask them how they feel about constant monitoring and a large camera presence. Also ask them how many camera as damaged yearly because residents can no longer stand the constant cold stare of the polic presence. They now have cameras watching cameras for just this reason. This is American, with guarantees of freedom, not a third world police state. I hardly call programs like this liberty or pursuit of happiness. Vice away your freedoms, even a little and you'll likely never get them back and will be asked for even larger losses of the right to just be free.


Sat, Sep 29, 2012 : 4:56 a.m.

Can we please give the hyperbole a rest? Tyranny and Nazis? Really? Over some cameras pointed at PUBLIC places? Bridges, intersections, parks? No one's rights are being threatened by cameras in public places, regardless of how much paranoia and baseless conspiracy theories are offered to the contrary.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

how long is it gonna take the bad people to figure out ways to neuteralize these cameras?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

They do it all the time in the UK because of the large camera presence. They've been set of fire, spray painted, bashed in, shot at, etc.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

It's been a while since I read such wonderful books as Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm and, most relevant to this constant effort to make us feel secure by putting us all constantly on video, 1984. Guess I will reread them. The fear that is generated by terrorists and by thugs in our communities can, I believe, lead us to look for security against these forces by giving up protections against one of the most dangerous of all organizations: our government(s). Please: let's not get so afraid of other things that we forget the realities of political power and the despotic totalitarianism that can rise from concentration of that power in the hands of people with guns and armies and all that. The fact, for instance, that you can't drop a shilling on the ground anywhere in London without it appearing on three cameras is, to me terrifying. I actually stopped once to use the facilities in the first rest area this side of the Indiana state line on I-94. The doors of the stalls were cut very short (less than half as high as normal), and there was a camera looking right at me. Okay,I wasn't nice, and may have made a rude gesture at the camera before storming out. That was some years ago, but who knows *what* is being viewed these days. Please, folks: can we please stop assuming the "The Government" has only our best interests at heart? They don't. Period.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

First the cameras then comes the drones... wake up and smell it in the air you is the New World Order here to take your rights and your privacy. George Orwell had it all right in 1984. WAKE UP YOU SHEEPLES!


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

The Ypsi police are not thinking broadly enough. They also need to install cameras in everyone's house, place of business, and place of worship.

Michigan Reader

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 9:11 p.m.

Plubius--This is the Ypsi Township government making this decision, not the Ypsilanti Police Department. BTW, the sheriff's department patrols the township, not the Ypsilanti PD.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Welcome to the new police state!


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Surely the Township can take a lesson in fixed-point surveillance from the U.S. Defense Department. After all, only the military has so memorably invested billions in so much fixed-point surveillance in so many places. That surveillance helped us both shut down the Ho Chi Minh Trail and root out terrorists from Afghanistan, didn't it? Well, there you go.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

It's kind of heading into the direction of Orwell's "1984"; but instead of perpetual propaganda music we are constantly bombarded with terrible rap music coming from people's cars.

Ron Granger

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

"Sheriff's office officials have also said the cameras are an effective tool." Remember that video we never got to see from the Sheriff's parking lot? The one that may have captured a theft from a car, possibly by a high ranking sheriff, but which the sheriff's department refused to disclose. They mumbled something about no crime. Yeah, those video cameras work great - when they're pointed at poor people. Wasn't there a pending lawsuit on that?


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. If you don't do/haven't done anything wrong, who cares? It is virtually impossible to walk in a public place anymore without being on camera SOMEWHERE. Most people just take that fact for granted and go about their daily business. Last time I checked, a pedestrian walkway over a highway was a public place, as are sidewalks in neighborhoods.

greg, too

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Most major cities have them everywhere, you get used to em and forget that they are there. Well, I would imagine as long as you are doing nothing wrong, you would forget that they are there. I want traffic cameras too. The more the merrier...once again, if you aren't doing anything wrong (running lights, killing or mugging people, etc.) then it can only help.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I think the initial uses for these cameras (public parks where crime has been a problem) were appropriate but cameras are not a substitute for actual police protection (crime prevention) and they are a tool that is easily abused - I think Glen S.'s concerns are quite valid. And yet, I am making a similar decision for my own property because we are so closely patrolled by thieves and burglars for any weakness or unlocked door.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Nice job Mike !


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

"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." Keep your cameras out of my neighborhood or they may just get shot out by unidentified assailants. I will have seen nothing, heard nothing, and will be glad the cameras are gone.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

"Keep your cameras out of my neighborhood or they may just get shot out by unidentified assailants. I will have seen nothing, heard nothing, and will be glad the cameras are gone." Nice attitude. That's what everybody else will be saying if your home gets invaded in the meantime. That's IF you don't wind up in jail for destroying public property.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Safe from people like me? I'm an honorably discharged war veteran of the Unite States Army. I have contributed more in one year of service than you will in the rest of your life. That being said, a system of cameras put in residential neighborhoods to monitor what goes on is just begging for people to abuse the system. And where does it stop? Maybe we should put cameras everywhere instead of investing in more police and trying to reduce crime by combatting poverty and corruption. Maybe you can volunteer to have cameras installed in your neighborhood so the rest of us can see how that goes. Personally, I want the cameras to stay out of my neighborhood and perhaps we can focus that funding somewhere else that doesn't include spying on residents.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Ryan the cameras are to keep neighborhoods safe from people like you. Your comment makes me want to donate to this project. Just remember if you do decide to shoot out the cameras, you had better look around first, the police aren't the only ones with cameras. One of my neighbors has a nice HD system, and they were nice enough to point one at my house at my request.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

Ooh. Somebody doth protest too much? I hope the police happen to use screen capture on this article and the comments coming in. Now, is "Ryan" your real name, too?

Glen S.

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

"Ideally we would put camera systems in every neighborhood and business district ..." The concern about crime is certainly legitimate, but I can't believe there hasn't been more public outrage at the idea that the best way to control crime is to have the "authorities" monitoring everyone's activities 24/7. In the long run, I don't think this will end up making anyone safer or more secure -- just less free.

Bruce Woodhull

Sun, Sep 30, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Criminals don't like cameras, those of us that don't break the law don't worry about the cameras, if we get more criminals off the street we are safer.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

If it keeps our neighborhoods more secure, bring them in! And this is coming from an Ypsi township resident who is more conservative. Also, I have nothing to hide.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Didn't cameras in West Willow recently solve a csc crime? I would say they are making us safer.

Sandy Castle

Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Glen, "The cameras are fixed in place, cannot zoom, only record public places and do not face any homes" How are we less free with these cameras in place? What can you do in public without the camera that you can't do with them there? I live in this area and am all for the cameras if they help address crime.