Security cameras have yet to prove useful in battle against downtown Lincoln crime, chief says


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LINCOLN, Nebraska — Security cameras that have been watching over Lincoln's downtown bar scene haven't produced anything useful in the police fight against crime over the past year.

Police Chief Jim Peschong told the Lincoln Journal Star ( ) that investigators haven't found any recordings from the two cameras that have helped identify criminals or bolstered evidence against any suspects. And Peschong said the cameras don't seem to have discouraged anyone from committing crimes nearby. Departmental crime statistics say there were 128 assaults within 500 feet of the cameras last year, which is about the average over the past five years.

But the chief wants to keep the cameras operating at their current location, saying banks and stores don't take down cameras if the establishments don't get robbed a year after installing them.

"Let's keep them going," Peschong said. "I think that's the best place."

The owner of a bar in the area disagrees.

"We're not surprised they haven't done much yet," said Scott Hatfield, who owns Duffy's Tavern. "I don't know what they're looking for."

If the Police Department is going to install just two cameras, why put them his business's neighborhood, Hatfield wonders.

"You can look at places where drug deals and rapes have happened," he said, "and those are not at the corner of 14th and O."

Police have said the area is a hotspot for assaults.

The cameras were installed in November 2012, using more than $5,000 in seized drug money, but shut off a month later after concerns were raised about personal privacy. The cameras were turned back on in December 2013.

Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,

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