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April 28, 2014

A HIGH-TECH APPROACH: New cameras to watch over Big Four Station, ramp

JEFFERSONVILLE — People with concerns about potential crime at the foot of the Big Four Bridge and adjacent park can take comfort that soon, law enforcement can watch the area at all times.

The redevelopment commission approved an initial agreement Monday with Security Pros of more than $90,000 from tax increment funds to install security cameras at Big Four Station and at Big Four Bridge when the ramp becomes city-owned.

Talk of installing surveillance cameras on the Indiana side of the Big Four Bridge began after a violent mob of teenagers attacked and injured multiple people March 22 in Louisville near at the pedestrian bridge and around downtown.

Redevelopment commission member Jack Vissing said that it was important for the board to move proactively to prevent any crime that may come once the ramp opens. Construction estimates place the opening date in late May or early June.

“This is the answer to the problem that exists,” Vissing said. “If you don’t anticipate this [crime] problem, you’re lying to yourself.”

Chris Gilbert, president and founder of Security Pros, said that the “really, really high res[olution]” cameras can be moved remotely.

“It’s always watching, always recording,” Gilbert said.

The cameras also come with analytics capabilities, which allows more real-time action.

“If I’ve got 20 people running across the bridge at 2 in the morning, that’s an immediate alert where I can verbally challenge those folks [remotely] and I could kick them off of that bridge, hopefully turn them around and send them across where they came from, or we can meet them [with police officers] at the base of the bridge and welcome them to Jeffersonville,” he said. “Essentially, the cameras have gotten smarter.”

Gilbert said this differs from older security cameras, which provide grainy photos after the fact.

“Today, I can draw a line in the sand and say, ‘If you cross this, I’m going to challenge you and if you don’t step back, I’m going to have the police do it for you,’” he said. “And you’re doing it remote, so you’re a little safer.”

These cameras also operate through a 48-strand fiber network, the same kind that Time Warner Cable and Windstream use.

Gilbert said that installing fiber opens up another option for Jeffersonville City Hall’s Internet network. If the city chooses to use the fiber as its Wi-Fi provider, it could save about $14,000 per year that it would otherwise pay to the cable company.

“And then you kind of open up the gate to whatever you want to do later in life,” Gilbert said.

Several proposals in the form of phases came before the board, which decided to go ahead and allocate funds for Phase 1 at Big Four Station and Phase 2 at the pedestrian bridge so cameras could be installed as close to the ramp’s opening as possible.

Twenty cameras will be installed at Big Four Station, some pointed at the ramp, Gilbert said.

Installation at Big Four Bridge can’t begin until Jeffersonville takes ownership of the ramp from the Indiana Department of Transportation after the ramp opens. However, Gilbert said it will be easy to install cameras because there are already electrical conduits in place where the lighted handrails will be.

Gilbert said cameras at the park will be operating around the end of June.

Other phases that Security Pros presented were camera installations at Riverside Drive, Spring Street and West Market Street.

Mayor Mike Moore said that these high-tech cameras are better than putting extra police officers at the scene.

“This is the way we need to go to make sure everybody down there is protected,” Moore said.

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Jamie Collins, Scottsburg, works on lesson plans in her classroom at Scribner Middle School on Monday afternoon. Collins was the recipient of a $100 gift card to the Your Educational Supply Store from the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Education Foundation. All first-time teachers in the school system received a gift card to help them set up their classrooms.

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