Denver, CO

Denver police want more street cameras

David Heitz

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City and County of Denver

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) No matter where you go in the mile-high city, electric eyes are watching.

And despite concerns the cameras unfairly target communities of color, a Denver City Council committee voted Tuesday to add 25 more. Stone security will be paid $1.4 million to maintain 276 HALO cameras throughout the city. HALO stands for High Activity Location Observation.

City Council member Candi CdeBaca cast the only "no" vote. CdeBaca has said the Task Force to Reimagine Policing does not want the cameras.

She said the public should decide where the new cameras go. She said taxpayers should be able to log into a site and view footage any time they want, "like a home security system."

Cameras monitored around the clock

Workers monitor these cameras around the clock, seven days a week. High levels of crime justify the cameras’ existence in those neighborhoods, police say. On Tuesday, councilmember Jamie Torres said she may want to have some of the cameras in Sun Valley relocated.

In February, the committee declined to advance the contract to the full council for a vote. Several council members demanded data to justify each camera’s existence.

Audit confirms camera locations

In upcoming years, an annual report will be made to the council using data from shootings and homicides in the neighborhoods, according to Denver Police Department Division Commander Joe Montoya. Having a staffer collect more data than that would be too time-consuming, Montoya said.

The police department conducted an audit of the camera system to doublecheck their locations. Some camera locations marked on an earlier map given to the council mistakenly included traffic cameras as well as HALO cameras.

Footage destroyed after 30 days

Council members also worried about HALO footage being used improperly. Montoya said footage is destroyed within 30 days if it does not become part of an investigation.

According to Montoya, the cameras help police fight crime. They serve as the first eyes at the scene. From Denver’s Real Time Crime Center, camera operators zoom, pan and tilt to watch everything going on in a neighborhood.

Montoya said camera footage has both convicted and exonerated suspects.

The contract approved Tuesday still must survive a full vote of the council.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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