LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - A new project could place more than three dozen police surveillance cameras on downtown streets.
The La Crosse City Vision Foundation and the La Crosse Police Department introduced the Safe-Cam Project Thursday.
It's an initiative to purchase and install 41 cameras in downtown La Crosse that police would have unlimited access to.
Mike Keil is chairman of the project team and said these cameras would provide a more time-effective way for police to investigate.
Keil was on a trip when got the call from police that there was a shooting at May's Photo last September. Keil owns the Doerflinger's building on the same block, and police needed to see his surveillance footage.
"I was unavailable to allow the police to review my video right at that time on that day," Keil said. "If they had their own system, they could review their own information right away."
Police Chief Ron Tischer said his team relied on private video to track down the suspect in the May's Photo homicide.
With Safe-Cam footage, police would have been able to start their video investigation immediately, he said.
"While investigators were on the scene there, other investigators could have pulled the exact cameras that were turned down that street and that sidewalk to start looking for suspects," Tischer said. "And, we would have developed someone almost virtually immediately."
The Safe-Cam project has a $475,000 price tag that project team hopes to raise by the end of June.
Of that total, $350,000 will be used to install the cameras; the rest will be saved in case police choose to install more cameras in the future.
But for now, police and the Vision Foundation hope 41 extra eyes help keep downtown La Crosse safe.
"Just with people knowing the cameras are there, it will help deter crime," Tischer said.
Even though police will have unlimited access to the cameras, Tischer said they will be viewed in a primarily passive manner.
Footage will usually be reviewed while a crime is happening or after it happened.
The Safe-Cam Project will be funded entire by community donations.
If you want to donate, send a tax-deductible donation to: La Crosse City Vision Foundation, Safe-Cam Project, PO Box 0175, La Crosse, WI 54602.
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