Toledo Police say the city's SkyCop cameras are producing results. They've been on the job since October 2012 with about $2 million invested into the program.
â??The areas where we have put up the cameras, we've seen the crime drastically decrease,â?? Toledo Police spokesman Sgt. Joe Heffernan said.
Officials attribute that decline, which they did not quantify into an actual percentage, to the cameras acting as both a deterrent to crime and as a tool for gathering information.
â??We don't believe that crime is going to go away, but it does have a lessening effectâ?|we canâ??t be there all the time, but we can make sure gangs arenâ??t on the corners and people can come and use the store,â?? Heffernan added.
In the months since the cameras first started rolling, the devices have helped catch a repeatedly bank robber.
Last winter, video camera captured Oscar Banks on SkyCop video fleeing the area near Jefferson and Huron in downtown Toledo, following a heist at a nearby Huntington Bank.
Investigators used the video to determine Banks was changing clothes after each robbery in order to avoid detection.
That information proved helpful when Banks tried to hold-up another bank. He was caught. READ: Arrests of bank robbery duo occurs after one allegedly tries another heist. The surveillance system has also proven helpful in accident investigations, where video evidence can help determine exactly which driver was at fault.
The SkyCop system is interactive. It allows Toledo Police to zoom-in on certain areas and have that video sent to cell phones or computers in the field.
This summer, when officers in TPDâ??s real time crime center saw a group trying to steal sidewalks, cruisers were immediately dispatched to the scene.
Toledo Police say, however, that the technology is not the only reason they are proving successful.
"These cameras have quite a big zoom and like anything else people forget there are there," Heffernan described.
Implementing and expanding the program has been easy for Toledo Police.
"The cameras canâ??t actually work in every area. We have to have a power source,â?? Heffernan explained.
An internet connection is also required to make the cameras fully functional.
More than 90 of the cameras are already in use. In the coming months, another 65 cameras will be added around the city.READ: Grant to fund patrolling of Toledo's historic neighborhoods
Activity in the real time crime center has also increased; officers now staff the facility 24 hours a day.
Toledo's Mayor elect, D. Michael Collins, tells WNWO that the SkyCop program will expand even further during his upcoming four years in office.
â??I am not going to scrap the project after putting in $2 millionâ?|that would be silly,â?? Collins said.
Toledo Police add that communities have started to show a greater appreciation for the cameras, requesting they be added to their neighborhoods.
Funding for the cameras comes from 3 major contributors including the City of Toledoâ??s capital improvement fund, Homeland Security grants and the police department's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.