Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins met with a handful of community members Wednesday evening to address privacy concerns regarding the installation of security cameras on College Hill.
“The intent of the cameras is to have an impact on violent crimes,” Jenkins said to the group of about 20 people.
The cameras will not be used to stop minor crimes such as littering or used to spy on students who may have had “one too many,” he said.
“We don’t have time to go after those things or even the interest,” Jenkins said.
He also said it’s unlikely the police will constantly monitor the cameras.
It is doubtful the cameras will be turned on all the time, he said. The only time they will be constantly filming is during weekend “peak hours,” and otherwise will be motion-activated.
Jenkins said it is likely they will only keep the security camera footage for about a week if there are no incidents.
“We don’t want to hold onto any video that’s not involved in an investigation,” he said.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at Stubblefields Bar and Grill in Adams Mall.
Before the meeting, DJ Goldfinger, the general manager of Stubblefields, said he had concerns that Adams Mall was the only location the police were considering installing the cameras.
“I don’t want people to read the paper and say that Stubblefields is a dangerous place,” Goldfinger said.
The meeting, he said, helped address some of his concerns.
He also said he was impressed that Jenkins led the meeting himself instead of one of his “underlings.” He said it showed that the chief of police really wanted to hear concerns of the public.
The funding for the cameras comes from a 2-year, $300,000 federal grant the Pullman Police Department was awarded last fall. Thirty-five percent of the grant money will go to the criminal justice department at WSU for research and data analysis, according to documents provided by the Pullman Police Department.
Zachary Hays, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology who will work on the research requirement of the grant, said they are still looking at potential locations and no decisions have been made yet.
As a part of the grant research, Hays said, they will survey students and residents of College Hill before any location is finalized.
Overall, Goldfinger said he did not think the cameras will have an impact on his business.
“The people who’ve been here before — it won’t bother them,” he said.
Goldfinger also said there are more than 17 cameras in Stubblefields that are in place to help keep customers safe.
Sometimes, he said, police request their security footage to help investigate incidents that may have originated inside the bar. He said he always cooperates with their request.
“We’ve always been open to give those videos up,” Goldfinger said.
The event was hosted by the College Hill Association, a private non-profit organization that usually focuses on quality of life issues such as littering, said Allison Munch-Rotolo, a Pullman community member and a co-chair of the College Hill Association.
The association recognized that the cameras will likely be placed in the neighborhood and they wanted to offer residents an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns, she said.
Munch-Rotolo said she thought the cameras may help to deter bad behavior.
“I do have some privacy concerns but I don’t feel that I will be personally impacted by camera placement,” she said.
Jenkins said there will be two more public meetings this spring semester. The next one will be on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.