The City of Columbia is asking citizens and businesses to assist the police department through the use of existing security cameras for homes and businesses.
According to Detective Sergeant Karla Heine of the Columbia Police Department, the goal of the program is not to create a system of constant surveillance, but to expedite what can be a tedious process for police officers.
Heine described that the typical procedure following an incident involves officers canvassing an area for houses or offices that have security cameras. The officers then secure permission and access from the home or business owners.
This new program aims to create a map of where security cameras are located in order to eliminate a time-consuming element of the investigative process.
Heine stated that the goal of the camera registration is to help solve crimes quickly, but added that the program cannot happen without assistance from the community. She also expressed hope that the work involved with mapping the locations of cameras “will pay off in the end.”
Columbia residents who would like to participate in this voluntary program may register on the Columbia city website, which is columbiaillinois.com. The registration process will ask for contact information for the owner and operator of the camera system as well as information about the location and view of the camera system, according to the city’s summer newsletter.
The Columbia Police Department also welcomed Clay Polmann as a full-time officer after the Columbia City Council voted to hire Polmann at its May 20 meeting.
Also at the council meeting, Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul reported on data collected as the end of the first year nears for a squad car dedicated to traffic enforcement. Electronic communication citations were up 43 percent, he said.
Paul also expressed concern over the increase in motor vehicle theft in the city and suggested that a joint task force with state law enforcement might be a possibility if the trend continues.
Alderman Mary Ellen Niemietz expressed concern from citizens and others about the difficulty of driving onto Main Street from side streets due to vehicles parking too close to the street. Citizens are reminded that parking too close to corners is a hazard for motorists as well as oversized and emergency vehicles. Furthermore, it was mentioned that curbs may not have yellow parking markings due to the upcoming Columbia Streetscape project.