NORFOLK, Va. – As part of the city’s action plan to crack down on crime, leaders are working to get surveillance cameras up and running in the parking garages downtown.
Many surveillance cameras in 14 of the city’s parking garages don’t work.
It’s major cause for concern for Norfolk State University student Ashleigh Harrell.
“That’s a big concern, especially for young women,” said the 22-year old. “That does not make me feel safe at all."
The city has now covered up the broken cameras to let people know, so there’s no false sense of security.
That’s exactly what happened to Jack Rowsey. Earlier this year, the Newport News man said he parked his car in the Boush Street Garage right underneath a camera, thinking it’d be safe. After about an hour when he came back, he said it was stolen.
“We thought we were on the wrong floor, went up to the next level, nothing,” said Rowsey. “The car was gone.”
Police eventually tracked down Rowsey’s stolen Dodge Charger and he got it back. It’s a big deal because that the car was specially designed for him. He’s paralyzed from the waist down.
“When you’re handicap and your house and your car is basically where you’re at; that’s where you live,” Rowsey said.
The problem was bigger than city leaders initially thought.
Fixing the inoperable cameras is now part of their new multi-pronged plan rolled out last week to curb crime. It comes after a spike in gun violence, including two high profile shootings.
City Manager Chip Filer said during a press conference on March 29, that they have already started to replace outdated technology.
“When we found out about it, we immediately started making enhancements to the ones that had easy fixes to them,” Filer said. “Then, we had come to find out that in many of the situations with some of the other garages, it was going to take a complete overhaul of the technology.”
A spokesperson for the city tells News 3, cameras and systems should be up and running for the Town Point and Waterside garages by the end of the month.
All surveillance technology downtown is expected to be replaced by the end of the year.
Filer said it's meant to help to keep people safe.
“These immediate actions should provide a much-needed boost to our visitors’ sense of security and reestablish the commitment the city has to maintaining downtown Norfolk as premiere entertainment location in the region,” he said.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $800,000. Funding has been set aside for this in the city budget.
To some, like Rowsey, it’s money well-spent.
“Those cameras can catch bad things from happening,” he said. “It makes it dangerous for not only folks like me but everyday folks, for children, for women.”
We’ve reached out to the city for more information about how many cameras have been fixed so far and how many still need to be replaced and are waiting to hear back.