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Dave Olson, Published September 21 2012

VIDEO: Fargo police surveillance cameras set to roll today along NP Avenue

FARGO – Surveillance cameras along NP Avenue in downtown Fargo – the city’s first public, police-run security cameras – will become operational today, a police official said.

Three cameras have been installed on a temporary basis in the 600 block of NP Avenue to monitor public spaces such as streets and sidewalks after businesses in the area complained about increased crime and police officials proposed installing the cameras.

Lt. Jeff Skuza said the camera system will be tested this morning and is expected to begin recording later today.

The cameras will record and feed video to the police station 24 hours a day with the aim of addressing what businesses in the corridor felt was an increase in crimes such as vandalism and theft. Data from the temporary cameras will be kept for about a week and a half.

“Our goal here is to use this on a temporary basis to see if we can have an impact in reducing the crime that is happening in the downtown area. If it proves ineffective, we will have to move on to a different strategy,” Chief Keith Ternes said about the plan last month in a City Commission meeting.

The idea that cameras could be set up permanently and across a broader area of downtown has met with resistance.

The Downtown Community Partnership of Fargo-Moorhead, which has yet to take a position on the cameras, plans to hold a community meeting sometime in November to discuss a number of police issues, including the cameras, said Mike Hahn, CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership. Ternes said at the Aug. 20 commission meeting that if the cameras help reduce crime in the area, it could help convince other business owners that the tool is valuable. But without that support, camera usage will not expand downtown.

“That will only come by way of the business owners in the downtown area embracing this idea on a more widespread basis. If they don’t, we won’t put them anyplace else,” he said.

The Police Department is covering the approximately $9,000 it cost to purchase and install the cameras and software.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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