Saginaw cops, businesses partner on surveillance system

Saginaw — Police in Saginaw are working with local business owners to install nearly a dozen surveillance cameras in the city’s Old Town district.

Saginaw police Chief Robert Ruth said he hopes the cameras will discourage criminal activity and provide a sense of security to visitors.

“Really, it’s a preventative measure,” Ruth said. “We want people to know they can come down here and they’re safe. We want people to know they’re there. We want people to know we’re watching.”

The idea to move police cameras into Old Town stemmed from a series of 2014 sexual assaults, Ruth said. A suspect is awaiting trial in the case.

The police department in 2012 unveiled a network of more than 50 cameras throughout Saginaw called the Regional Analysis of Police Technology, Operations and Reporting system, or RAPTOR. The city’s shrinking residential core, however, has reduced the usefulness of some of the cameras.

“Some of the cameras were in areas where there aren’t any houses anymore,” Ruth said. “These cameras were looking at nothing, so we said, ‘Let’s put them somewhere where they will do some good.’ It’s better to be watching the business district to prevent crime than to be watching an empty field with trees all over it.”

The cost of moving 11 of the department’s cameras to Old Town is being covered through an effort that involves business owners in the district, the Old Town Business Association, the Saginaw Downtown Development Authority and the city.

Local property owners offered up locations to mount cameras and will pay for electricity that is used to run the cameras, Ruth said. Technology upgrades allow the cameras to be remotely monitored on computers and mobile devices, the newspaper reported.

The first two cameras were installed at a city parking lot just before the Fourth of July holiday. Plans also call for a second phase of the project in downtown.