Annapolis to triple number of surveillance cameras downtown

Annapolis police will soon have extra eyes on downtown streets, thanks to a federal grant to supply 20 additional surveillance cameras.

The new cameras will make a total of 30 surveillance cameras downtown, and they will be installed early this summer, said Beth Hart, special projects director for the Police Department.

She said the surveillance cameras provide an alternative to "sending an officer out." The department has about 130 officers to cover the city of about 39,000 residents.

The money comes from a Department of Homeland Security grant to provide extra security to the state's capital. Six cameras were installed more than two years ago and have helped solve crimes, Hart said. She said the cameras have been particularly helpful by monitoring bar crowds.

A second camera program funded by cellular company Sprint added four additional cameras, including one on Calvert Street. Annapolis was the first Police Department in the country to use the Sprint cameras as part of its 4G pilot project. The camera first started operating in January 2009 to provide an alternative to microwave, cable, DSL or fiber options, allowing the department to stream high-definition video without a lag, according to the company.

Hart said the cameras are different in that they move, while the other cameras are fixed. The Sprint cameras use cellular technology rather than radio antennas, making them more portable, she said.

The cameras have resulted in more than 100 arrests, according to the Sprint release.

The department is expected to receive additional cameras from Sprint during the next fiscal year. Because they require less setup, Hart said, they can be used in the suburban areas where it can be more difficult place a camera. Hart did not know how many cameras the city would receive.

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