Safety cameras worth the investment

A proposal to install safety cameras in Marshalltown and throughout different areas of Marshall County is an idea worth pursuing.

Earlier this year, the Marshall County Crime Stoppers Board revealed it had been examining the use of safety cameras in other communities and how they have assisted local law enforcement in solving crimes.

Crime Stoppers, as well as the city of Marshalltown have each committed $20,000 each for the initial funding for the startup equipment costs (approximately $60,000). The remaining $20,000 contribution could come from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, who are scheduled to hear a formal presentation about the proposal on Tuesday.

This is an expense the county should make.

Over the years, numerous cities and counties have seen a significant reduction in crime after surveillance cameras were installed in strategic locations throughout those communities.

In places like Dubuque and Ottumwa, the installation of cameras has yielded video evidence of criminal activity and has served as a deterrent to potential wrongdoing.

Crimes as far ranging as vandalism and bullying to robbery and murder have been solved thanks to the video technology that has provided law enforcement with significant clues as to what may have transpired and/or identified the perpetrators responsible.

Camera surveillance, of course, is not a new concept. Private businesses, banks, retailers, and homeowners have used safety cameras for years in an effort to protect employees, customers and personal property.

Installing safety cameras at strategic locations in downtown Marshalltown and other Marshall County communities, I believe, could yield positive results. These devices would simply be another tool for law enforcement to use in solving crimes and aid in the prevention of criminal activity.

Because while the men and women of the Marshalltown Police Department and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office do an excellent job of patrolling our communities and keeping a watchful eye on trouble spots, no law enforcement agency can be at one location 24 hours a day.

Along with patrol officers, these cameras are just another resource that will complement existing efforts in curbing crime.

Will adding cameras to certain locations in Marshalltown and Marshall County be 100 percent effective? Of course not. But if solving one crime, identifying a suspect or preventing a potential violation of the law from occurring, then the effort to install safety cameras is worth every penny.

In the end, whether we install cameras or not, business and property owners, as well as all citizens, must band together to be vigilant. Those who witness criminal activity should report offenses to local authorities. See something? Say something! We all have a stake in looking out for each other, be it a neighbor, a friend or a stranger.

Here’s hoping the county supervisors carefully consider this proposal because being proactive and taking a stand against crime will make us all safer in the end.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com