RICHMOND, Va. -- Five high-definition, 360-degree cameras are up and running in Shockoe Bottom to help police with public safety in the area. Two community groups, The Shockoe Partnership and Venture Richmond, paid $30,000 to install the cameras.
Once the 17th Street Farmers Market renovations are complete later in the year, eight additional 360-degree cameras will be installed. The current cameras are up in the following locations:
- Intersection of 17th Street and Main Street observing north and east
- Intersection of 17th Street and Franklin Street observing north and west
- The 0000 block of 17th Street observing the Farmer’s Market and foot traffic from Walnut Alley
- Intersection of 18th Street and Main Street observing north and west
- Intersection of 18th Street and Franklin Street observing north and east
"The police determined these locations," said Brian White, President of The Shockoe Partnership. "These are not cameras that are going to be monitored on an ongoing basis, 24 hours a day. They are tool to help address issues as they arise. . . We want to deal with the sort of atmosphere of bad behavior that exists late night on the weekends."
Camera systems in public places have come under fire from privacy groups concerned about the potential that officials will abuse their use or target certain communities unfairly.
Marvin Wells, who has lived in Richmond his entire life, does not have a problem with the cameras.
"Most of the businesses down here are good businesses," Wells said. "It shouldn't affect anybody unless you're doing something wrong -- period."
Ryshawn Richardson worked in Shockoe Bottom and visits occasionally. Richardson said he has witnessed problems with crime in the area, but said the new camera systems will actually help visitors to the area who want to enjoy themselves and not cause problems.
"Now you don't have to think everybody is so bad. Maybe it is this isolated event or this spot here," Richardson said.
Richmond Police will monitor and maintain the camera systems after installation.