By Kevin Deutsch
Coral Springs Police are looking to place surveillance cameras on major roadways across the city in an effort to solve more crimes.
At a Broward County Commission Meeting Sept. 9, Coral Springs Police Department Deputy Chief Bradley McKeone said the camera program would use existing county poles—which already support mounted cameras for traffic monitoring—to give local police more electronic eyes at traffic-heavy locations.
“I’d like to be able to test at a couple of intersections to see if this would be beneficial, to see if it works,” McKeone told commissioners. “Let’s see what we can do to make our community safer and better.”
Police said the cameras would be used to track vehicles in real-time after their involvement in crimes, gather intelligence to solve crimes, get back victims’ stolen property, including stolen cars, and investigate crashes.
What the cameras won’t be used for, McKeone vowed, is traffic enforcement or ticketing of any kind, including red light, speeding, and seatbelt violations.
“This is for investigative purposes, real-time information that makes us better at our job,” said McKeone, adding that he has been developing the proposed camera program for nearly eight years. “It’s a force multiplier. It allows detectives to solve cases sooner and can actually reduce some of the manpower needs.”
Most commissioners offered cautious support for the program after gaining assurances that police cameras would not be used to intrude on residents’ privacy or to discriminate against minority groups.
“Generally, this sounds like a very good idea for public safety, but…I’m just questioning whether they might be set up in an area where a person would reasonably think they are not being surveilled,” said Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan.
McKeone said he is “not looking to violate people’s privacy.”
“It’s only along the major roadways: University Drive, Sample Road, Wiles Road, where we have heavy vehicular traffic [where the cameras would be used],” he added. “Criminal activity usually comes and goes down those roadways.”
The cameras would bolster the Coral Springs Police Department’s already expansive video surveillance programs, which include feeds from a host of city businesses and facilities to its Real-Time Crime Center.
Commissioners told McKeone they would be most comfortable with police attaching their own equipment to the county poles and using their own power source rather than tapping into the county’s traffic monitoring feeds and electricity supply.
County Administrator Bertha Henry said that “as long as the equipment is not intertwined” with the county’s traffic control system, officials would work with Coral Springs to make the program work.
“Our main concern is our cameras,” said Henry. “They don’t record. We don’t record. So they would have to have their own equipment.”
McKeone said that could be done by clamping police cameras onto the poles and using a police-provided power supply, possibly in the form of solar energy.
The commission voted to draft an agreement hashing out more details of the program.
The most significant resistance to the proposal came from Commissioner Dale Holness, who said Black men are disproportionately stopped by police for seatbelt infractions and other traffic violations in Broward County.
“I’m very reluctant based on the voices that I hear to support this,” said Holness.
“If you want them up, put them up,” he said of the police cameras. “But I don’t know that we should be facilitating it as a government.”
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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