A new set of eyes opened Thursday on Winnipeg, aimed at helping reduce crime in a troubled area of the city.
Two closed-circuit video cameras, the first of 10 planned for various downtown locations with high occurrences of crime, began operating from the top of the Millennium Library.
"Let me emphasize that the closed-circuit cameras are a tool used to assist officers with investigations, not a replacement for officers on the street," police Supt. Gord Schumacher said during a news conference unveiling the cameras.
"The reality is that video surveillance enables an intelligence-led police presence in a 24/7 environment."
'A year from now, when we look back at the crime data for the hot-spot areas that we have identified, we are going to see a significant difference, I am quite confident of that.' —Gord Schumacher, police superintendent
Over the next month, the remaining eight cameras will become live as part of a pilot project that will be evaluated over the next year.
"A year from now, when we look back at the crime data for the hot-spot areas that we have identified, we are going to see a significant difference, I am quite confident of that," Schumacher said.
The cost of installing all 10 cameras and the monitoring equipment is close to $500,000. The goal is to create a safer environment in those areas and help police gather evidence, said Mayor Sam Katz.
"My focus has always been to improve public safety for all Winnipeggers, so I am pleased," he said. "We are working to create as safe a downtown as possible, and over the next year … the goal is to explore whether closed-circuit cameras can help us accomplish that."
Thursday's announcement took place at the corner of Garry Street and Graham Avenue, near the library. Just a few blocks away, in the neighbourhood of Central Park, three other cameras will soon begin monitoring the area.
'I'm afraid to cross the street. So, it's a good idea.' —Hannah Amdemichael, Central Park resident
Area resident Hannah Amdemichael, who walks through the park on her way home from work at the Health Sciences Centre, welcomes anything that will make her journey a little safer.
"I'm afraid to cross the street," she said. "So, it's a good idea."
"The camera is being observed by somebody, so if there is anything unusual happening, people in authority will come to know," agreed Sunhil Puhambugoda, a clerk at a convenience store on the edge of the park. "So that is a good idea."