Batavia soon may have surveillance cameras in its downtown area.
Mayor Jeffery Schielke said a string of recent vandalism across the city in late September and early October spurred interest in acquiring the cameras.
“We’ve had the experience where The Comedy Vault over at Wilson and River got hit by some graffiti and that got us upset,” he said. “Then we had some damage to some of the items on the Riverwalk that people had donated in memory of people.”
Batavia Police Chief Shawn Mazza said downtown cameras have been adopted by several neighboring towns.
“There’s obviously municipalities around us that are using cameras for surveillance purposes in their downtown districts. St. Charles is one of those municipalities that has them,” Mazza said. “Really what we’re looking at doing, this is kind of my vision, is putting them in areas where we have high volumes of people, whether it be our River Street district, that has festivals and that kind of stuff. Or we have a lot of foot traffic across our bridge area.”
Mazza said the cameras would assist police in investigating downtown incidents.
“It could be useful if we have an incident to go back and take a look at surveillance footage to see if that would help us to identify what happened and potentially a suspect offender if there’s criminal cases that we’re dealing with,” he said.
“I think just from a public safety standpoint having the ability to, whether it be in live time, if we have an Octoberfest thing going on, to be able to watch live time what’s going on at an event or after the fact,” Mazza said. “The quality of the technology has gotten better.”
City Administrator Laura Newman said security at city events was especially a concern.
“On the one hand, it was vandalism issues, but the other driving factor is public safety,” she said. “Pointing to what happened to Highland Park [the July 4 mass shooting], these are things that many communities are looking for ways to enhance their ability to protect public safety.”
Schielke said the camera installation process is still in its early stages.
“Right now, we’re trying to gather some quotes from vendors as to how much [money] they’re anticipating for putting cameras on Wilson Street and Batavia Avenues, which is the two areas we would be [monitoring],” Schielke said. “We’ve already talked to the City Council and they seem pretty agreeable to the idea that we would [put the camera costs] in the coming budget, which we will pass in the first City Council meeting in December. We will have an appropriation in there to buy the security cameras.”