Twin Ports Look to Upgrade, Expand Public Camera Systems

Duluth prepares to expand and upgrade their system, while Superior looks to add public cameras for the first time

DULUTH, Minn. – There are dozens of cameras mounted across Duluth that can help law enforcement prevent and solve crimes.

Now, the Police Department wants to upgrade and expand the camera system.

The public cameras have been used by police to solve robberies, assaults, damage to property, and even two homicides in Duluth.

Police believe expanding the system can make the cameras even more effective.

“Anytime we’re able to take a witness statement and then able to show the event unfold through that witness statement, it adds credibility to that statement, it could help us establish a timeline for example,” said Duluth Police Lieutenant Mike Ceynowa.

In 2011, the Duluth Police Department got a Port Security Grant allowing for the installation of twenty-six cameras in or along the city’s waterfront in places like the Aerial Lift Bridge, the DECC, and the Lakewalk.

“Since then we’ve expanded out the camera network all the way up to Fourth Street and the bulk of it is between Mesaba and Sixth Avenue East up to Fourth and down,” said Ceynowa.

Now, about two-hundred cameras span the city’s high traffic areas outside, with some inside public buildings like the Skywalk.

“Because these also have DVR capability that records up to thirty days, it gives us the ability to go back and review cases after they come in to investigate,” said Ceynowa.

The Duluth Police Department has applied for a new grant that would replace the original cameras and infrastructure with new, better resolution models.

“The quality is considerably better and at a much lower cost,” said Elysia Hoium, IT Manager for the City of Duluth. “You can zoom in and read a license plate from up on the Aerial Lift Bridge.”

Meanwhile, the Superior Police Department is looking to add cameras in public spaces like parks, busy intersections, and along streets like Tower Avenue, Belknap Street, and Hammond Avenue.

“It’s difficult to quantify that prevention effect but they definitely can quantify their ability to solve crimes afterwards because of having that extra intelligence or evidence and ultimately I do think that does contribute to an overall prevention effect,” said Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander.

They have applied for a $500,000 Port Security Grant to pay for forty to fifty cameras in places like bridges, docks, and energy and infrastructure hubs.

Plus, Chief Alexander is asking the city for an additional $250,000 to add cameras beyond the waterfront.

“The camera systems that I’m talking about wouldn’t be installed anyplace where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” said Alexander. “They wouldn’t be installed with the purpose of looking into windows on homes or things like that. In fact, in most cases, there won’t be many in the area of residential neighborhoods.”

Superior’s Public Safety Commission and City Council could vote to approve those cameras within the next few months.

Meanwhile in Duluth, the Police Department hopes to eventually add cameras to the growing Lincoln Park Neighborhood, West Duluth, and within the HART District of East Superior Street.


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