Grant program will place surveillance cameras across Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A city-matching grant pilot program that will bring police-monitored surveillance cameras to individual businesses and commercial corridors across Milwaukee will be unveiled Friday, March 7th on the near south side.

The collaborative public safety initiative sponsored by Common Council President Michael J. Murphy, Alderman Bob Donovan, Alderman Joe Davis, Sr. and supported by Mayor Tom Barrett, will use a $250,000 matching grant fund provided by the Milwaukee Police Department and the city’s Community Development Grants Administration (CDGA) that will help provide monitored surveillance cameras in commercial corridors in Police Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 where Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and other like groups exist to support and help fund improvements.

Safe and Sound, Inc. will administer the pilot program, which will expire at the end of 2014.

Details of the program will be unveiled Friday during a news conference at 10:00 a.m.

President Murphy, Alderman Donovan, and Police Chief Edward Flynn are expected to be joined at the news conference by Mayor Tom Barrett and Katie Sanders of Safe & Sound.

President Murphy said individual businesses, BIDs and business associations will be provided an opportunity to match the grant funds for the installation of cameras, which have become standard public safety tools in shopping and commercial areas across the U.S.

He noted the location of the news conference – Wild Flour Bakery – was selected because it was the site of a successful MPD investigation brought about by footage from a mounted Operation Impact surveillance camera in 2007.

“It is now quite commonplace in business and commercial districts across the U.S. and the world to have mounted surveillance cameras monitoring activity, because they have proven very effective in helping to deter crime and also helping to solve crimes,” President Murphy said.

Alderman Donovan said surveillance cameras in business areas on the near south side have helped solve serious crimes, including fatal hit-and-run accidents.

“Our police officers cannot be everywhere at all times, and the cameras are a hugely valuable tool to not only deter crimes, but also to catch criminals and help bring them to justice,” said Alderman Donovan, who founded Operation Impact and who has championed the use of surveillance cameras along busy commercial strips.

According to a memorandum of understanding, businesses and business improvement districts can apply (through Safe and Sound) to participate in the program, and MPD officers with Homeland Security training will then recommend specific camera placement locations at approved businesses.

The CDGA will administer and monitor the grant funding, and the City Clerk’s Office will ensure that participating businesses’ licenses are in good standing.

Cornerstone Security Group, LLC. will ensure camera installation and ongoing maintenance.

The sources of the funding for the $250,000 matching grant will be Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds ($100,000), and funds generated from the Milwaukee Police Department’s asset forfeiture program (confiscated cash and property from criminal cases) in the amount of $150,000.