The Pullman Police Department will install security cameras in high crime public areas in College Hill as a part of a two-year grant the police department received from the United States Department of Justice.
The “Smart Policing Initiative” federal grant is highly competitive, Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said. The department was one of 12 grant recipients throughout the nation.
While the location of the cameras is not yet definitive, Jenkins said, a perspective place is outside of Adam’s Mall.
Adam’s Mall is a likely location because of the high concentration of assaults and fights that take place there, Jenkins said. A number of sexual assaults may also begin there, as well.
More research needs to be conducted before the location is finalized, he said. They will install cameras in at least one location, perhaps more, if there is money leftover.
“We know there are concerns of privacy,” Jenkins said.
The police department will hold public meetings with various groups such as ASWSU, College Hill residents as well as business owners, he said.
Pullman was awarded $300,000, Jenkins said, which is the maximum amount of money available based on the size of the department.
It also requires the police department to work with a local research partner, he said. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology will be working with the police on the grant requirements and the research component of it.
A large portion of the funds will go to the university, Jenkins said, which will do pre-grant and post-grant research as well as monitor the progress of it.
The university will analyze whether or not the cameras have any effect on crimes, like DUIs or fights, said Zachary Hays, chair of the WSU Police Advisory Board and assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. They will see if cameras reduce these incidents or stop them altogether before they happen.
He said cameras could help identify problems, increase the police response time and possibly prevent certain crimes from happening.
They will be doing surveys before and after the cameras are installed, he said. The surveys will ask residents their impression of the cameras as well as the police. They will also review the data while the project is taking place to analyze whether or not they have any effect on crime in that location.
The pre-grant work will start this year, and it will take several months, Jenkins said. By summer of next year, the cameras will most likely be installed.
College Hill Association Chair Allison Munch-Rotolo said the association wrote a letter in support of the grant.
“Although there would be some loss of personal privacy associated with the use of video surveillance cameras, we believe that appropriate policies can be developed to protect privacy and prevent abuse,” Munch-Rotolo said. “With those safeguards in place, the benefits of video cameras will far outweigh costs.”