BRADENTON, FLA. -- Police are always looking for tools to help them do their job better. In downtown Bradenton, police say it's an iPad that's helping them keep the downtown Riverwalk safe.
“Right here we are able to monitor all of our cameras on the riverwalk," says Officer Kenny Simunovic, who is able to keep an eye on the entire mile and a half of Riverwalk park by logging into his department-issued tablet. "I just have to swipe my finger and I can go from either our west side of our riverwalk to our east side of our riverwalk.”
The city of Bradenton in partnership with the Downtown Development Authority spent $60,000 to install sixteen cameras on the riverwalk last April.
“We always want to be one step ahead. We want to be proactive that is what we are doing. We are not installing these because we are experiencing any issues we just want to be proactive,” said David Gustafson, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority.
The cameras all feed into the police station, but now thanks to technology, officers who patrol the Riverwalk like Simunovic can view every camera remotely.
“I can go to any of our Wi-Fi hotspots where the cameras are located, log on and I'm able to look at every camera in the riverwalk, so if I am down here alone, I can be 15 people at once.” said Simunovic.
“It is really interesting the way the world is changing and how technology makes it easier to watch out for all the kids that are out here. I think it is great,” said local mom, Crystal Rothhaar. “Especially if they are being monitored continuously that we don’t have to worry that anything is going to happen to our kids while we are here.”
Dad Mark Lydon is on the fence about the cameras and hopes they are used appropriately.
“It is reminiscent of big brother, but as a parent of two young ones if I knew my community could record information that help to apprehend any offender, I think it would be hard-pressed as a parent to say no to that,” said Lydon.
Gustafson says they city has plans to put up signage alerting users of the park they are being watched and recorded.
“We don’t want people to think big brother is out there but ultimately we want people to feel safe and secure.”
The Downtown Development Authority is already planning phase two of the security cameras which means adding cameras south of City Hall and along Main Street.