“We could use five to six more cameras”: APD Chief Howard wants city to invest in more cameras

Alexandria Police Chief Ronney Howard addresses the confusion over the location of crime cameras.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - At the Alexandria City Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Alexandria Police Chief Ronney Howard told those in attendance that the department does have cameras in recent hot zones for violent crime.

This includes the Florence Ave. and Orchard St. area, which has seen seven deaths in 2022 alone. The chief originally did not elaborate more on the exact locations of the cameras due to “pending investigations.”

However, one resident continued to question Chief Howard, demanding answers and that is when he confirmed that cameras are in fact in that area to Council President Catherine Davidson.

“Why can’t we put cameras in areas of Orchard St. and Florence?” said Davidson. “Why can’t you?”

“I did,” said Chief Howard.

“So they (cameras) are there?” said Davidson.

“Yes,” responded Chief Howard.

The day after the meeting, News Channel 5 interviewed Chief Howard, who confirmed what he said during the meeting that cameras are in place in District 1, specifically around Florence Ave. and Orchard St. The chief said the cameras are not out in the open like the ones with flashing lights in downtown Alexandria, but instead hidden so they cannot be seen or shot at.

“Some of them are fixed, some of them blend in with the rest of the environment and some of them are more or less deployed on highways,” said Chief Howard.

Chief Howard said during the interview that the average person would not be able to spot the cameras that the department uses to help solve a crime that is intentional. Because of this, residents, including District 1 Councilman Reddex Washington, were unaware if there were any cameras in high crime zones. During the meeting, Councilman Washington asked the chief if the city owned cameras that were not located in the downtown area.

Last week, Washington sent a letter to the administration and fellow council members asking for more cameras and help with patrol in his district. Washington said the homicides taking place in his district are just blocks away from his house.

“I live right there, just a few blocks away from where we say is a hot zone,” said Washington. “I can say myself I have not seen the cameras, but I’m not an expert with cameras, so it could be all kinds of cameras that may be in place that we just don’t know about.”

News Channel 5 has recently learned that the Alexandria Police Department has mobile cameras spread out across the city. Chief Howard shared that if crime in a specific district or neighborhood peaks, these mobile cameras can be moved around.

However, Chief Howard pointed out that the city does not have nearly enough cameras and is asking officials to invest in more.

“Right now realistically, we could use five to six more cameras,” said Chief Howard. “Right now, with the one coming in we have a total of 28 cameras. We have 28 cameras that we own.”

The new cameras could come, however, with a hefty price tag of as much as $15,000-$25,000 apiece.

“I believe that we should invest more funds into what’s better for our city, and if cameras are better, then I believe we should look into that,” said Washington.

As it stands, it still is set to be seen if a request for more police cameras will come before the city council.

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