Downtown Mall cameras

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Most Video surveillance on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall is restricted to private cameras but the first wave of publicly-owned security cameras was installed in the spring of 2018. [1]


The Charlottesville Police Department recommended in the summer of 2007 that they be allowed to install security cameras in the mall in the name of public security. Police Chief Timothy Longo suggested an initial purchase of 30 cameras at a cost of $300,000. However, some City Councilors felt such a system would be too much of an intrusion into privacy. Councilor Kendra Hamilton said she was "uneasy" about the move. Councilor David Brown and Dave Norris said they were open to hearing arguments. Longo said they would be a "visible deterrence" and cited his experience as a police officer in Baltimore. [2] [3]

The idea was championed by the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville who urged Council to take action in order to allay fears that may have kept people from visiting the mall. [3] In July 2007, Council agreed to send out bids for companies to design and install a system. [4] A month later, they opted to slow the process down and refine the request for proposals in order to determine rules by how the cameras could be used. City Councilor Kevin Lynch said it was important to get the policies right before making such a large purchase of equipment. The halt was praised by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute who said written guidelines would be a good idea. [5]

By September, a majority on Council had emerged against the cameras. Brown had changed his mind. Norris said hiring more police officers would be a better deterrent. Longo pointed out the purchase of cameras would be a one-time cost, whereas staffing new officers would cost the city on an annual basis. Hamilton and City Councilor Julian Taliaferro supported them, but a 3-2 majority against had formed. [6]


The idea resurfaced in the spring of 2010 when the DBAC re-framed cameras as a way to boost business. They asked the city to reconsider the idea. [7] Whitehead expressed his opposition in a letter to Mayor Norris, citing the idea that cameras might be trained on the Free Speech Monument. Norris said at the time that the idea was just one of many suggested by the DBAC and was not under consideration. [8]


Business leaders began to plan for a system that would be privately-held and paid for without taxpayer money. They went as far as consulting with a security firm to plot out the network of cameras. Whitehead continued to question the need for the system. [9]


In the wake of the abduction of Hannah Graham, City Council Maurice Jones hinted that Council would take up the issue of surveillance cameras again in the fall. [10]


The city began installing seven cameras on the eastern end of the mall in March 2018 at a cost of $54,148.85. [1] There will be future phases. [11]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Web. [ PrintFeedbackShare & BookmarkPress Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next optionFont Size:+- Security Cameras Being Installed on Downtown Mall], Press Release, City of Charlottesville, March 30, 2018, retrieved April 9, 2018.
  2. Web. Charlottesville police seek cameras to monitor downtown, Daily Progress, Media General, June 21, 2007, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Web. Group calls for mall cams, Rob Seal, Daily Progress, Media General, July 13, 2007, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  4. Web. City Council will seek bids on mall security cameras, Staff Reports, Daily Progress, Media General, July 17, 2007, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  5. Web. Downtown Mall camera process slows, Seth Rosen, Daily Progress, Media General, August 19, 2007, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  6. Web. Council split over camera proposal, Seth Rosen, Daily Progress, Media General, September 28, 2007, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  7. Web. Downtown Mall video cameras may get a go, Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress, Media General, April 26, 2010, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  8. Web. Rutherford balks at public cameras, Bryan McKenzie, Daily Progress, Media General, April 27, 2010, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  9. Web. Security cameras for Downtown Mall?, Brandon Shulleeta, Daily Progress, Media General, February 11, 2011, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  10. Web. Officials rethinking cameras on Downtown Mall, Michael Martz, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, September 28, 2014, retrieved September 29, 2014.
  11. Web. Charlottesville to Install Security Cameras on Downtown Mall, Meghan Moriarity, News Article, WVIR NBC29, March 30, 2018, retrieved April 9, 2018.