Town security cameras catching on

Albion the latest

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO A security camera — top center — is pictured in Marshalltown. The camera was installed last year by RACOM, Inc.. The Marshalltown-based company was awarded a contract to install security cameras to deter crime and record criminal activity around Marshalltown and other towns within Marshall County.

An effort to promote the installation of security cameras in Marshall County towns has seen success.

Marshalltown installed security cameras last year, and Albion installed two this year.

Fittingly, Marshall County Crime Stoppers (MCCS) has lead the charge on the initiative.

Formed Sept. 1, 2015, the not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization has successfully raised funds to offer cash rewards for tips leading to many arrests as well as security camera cost and installation.

In less than three years, MCCS received 472 tips, said board member and Times-Republican Publisher and GM Mike Schlesinger on Tuesday.

Security Cameras

After seeing a presentation on Dubuque’s security camera network last year, MCCS board members were fired up and ready to go.

They learned Dubuque started with a basic system, and due to its popularity, expanded it significantly.

Dubuque’s basic system was installed by RACOM, Inc., a Marshalltown-based company, and RACOM was also hired to provide equipment and installation expertise for several expansions.

“Albion is waiting to have their cameras connected to the network in Marshalltown,” said Crime Stoppers chairman Mark Osmundson and also KDAO/AM/FM/TV owner. “We have talked to Melbourne and other communities too.”

The cost of installing a basic system of cameras throughout the county is approximately $58,000, according to RACOM.

Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman believed so strongly in Crime Stoppers and the county-wide security camera project he took $20,000 from his 2016-17 department budget and applied it as the Marshall County share.

County supervisors Bill Patten, David Thompson and Steve Salasek officially supported Hoffman’s efforts at a June meeting also last year.

“Technology plays a significant role in crime fighting,” Hoffman said.

The Marshalltown City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, last year to pledge $20,000 contingent upon Crime Stoppers formally committing their share as well as Marshall County.

Importantly, when MCCS directors have told the towns the cameras are for security only — and not traffic enforcement.

They have additionally promised only law enforcement would have access to data.

About MCCS

Crime Stoppers is a national organization with local chapters– such as Marshalltown — offering cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The crime fighting initiative creates a cash incentive for tipsters to report information – and they can do it anonymously via an online form, text message or telephone call.

Tipsters can submit data pertaining to a potential suspect’s name, address, race, gender, height, weight, age, hair color, scars and marks, tattoos, clothing or animal ownership.

That information is sent to a third-party server before being rerouted to law enforcement, said Marshalltown Police Department Capt. Chris Jones.

“I have access and another police captain in our office has access and a series of other investigators that receive tips” he said.

Jones said he forwards promising tips to personnel assigned to the cases to which the tips pertain. Importantly, the cash incentives come completely from private donations.

Crime Stoppers tips can be submitted by telephone, text message or an Internet website.

The Crime Stoppers phone line is answered at all hours, seven days a week, at 641-753-1234. Calls are answered by Marshall County Communications Center operators.

Text messages can be sent to 247637 (CRIMES).

Tips can be submitted online at www.marshallcountycs.com.

The results, according to county law enforcement officials, are measured in the number of tips made and later, arrests and convictions.

One suspect recently was apprehended out-of-state location.

“Crime Stoppers has exceeded my expectations, that is for sure,” said Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper. “It has been helpful, and has made our community safer.”

Crime Stoppers is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible. Send to: 112 W. Church St., Marshalltown, 50158. For more information, visit marshallcountycs.com.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com