Columbia Police: Security cameras in planning stages

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said the passage of Proposition One has left him with many questions.

Columbia voters approved the measure that allows the chief to put safety cameras in high crime areas.

Burton said the cameras still don TMt have a price tag or a deadline for operation.

The passage of the ballot issue gives Burton the power to use surveillance cameras for monitoring streets and sidewalks. Burton had a conversation with Columbia City Administrator Bill Watkins the next morning after Election Day. Burton said the purchase, placement and funding for the cameras are back to square one.

His instructions to me were to, for lack of a better term, start over," Burton said. "He wants me to take a comprehensive look at what the possibilities are. I think we learned some things in the dialogue about the cameras.

Burton plans to meet with several community leaders next week to discuss the next step. City officials need to figure out what kind of cameras to buy and how much they will cost. Originally, city leaders projected an initial cost of about $50,000.

"This was a real grassroots effort," Safety camera supporter Karen Taylor said. "It wouldn TMt have happened without a number of people supporting us, people we knew, family and friends and even people we didn TMt know, who felt just as compassionate about Columbia as we did.

Burton said it will take at least several months to make any final decisions on the cameras. Burton said the mandate was clear and the majority of citizens support the cameras. Now, it TMs his job to find out the best way to get the cameras up and running.

Money for the surveillance cameras will come from the Columbia city budget TMs general fund.

Third Ward Councilman-Elect Gary Kespohl has suggested using the council TMs travel allowance to help pay for the cameras.