Safe-Cam project would help fight crimes in downtown La Crosse

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The city of La Crosse is still reeling from the tragedy that took the lives of father and son, Paul and AJ Petras, at a downtown photo shop. Now, just four months later, a new effort is underway to prevent crimes and help police solve cases.

It's called the Safe-Cam project. The idea is to give police a bird's eye view around downtown La Crosse and creating a safer place.

“After the murders that occurred in downtown La Crosse in September, we came to the realization the police department was lacking a tool that was really needed,” said Mike Keil with the La Crosse City Vision Foundation at a news conference at Howe’s Diamond Jewelers downtown.

“After the tragedy, there was a real sense of need-to-do-something,” said Tim Kabat with Downtown Main Street Inc.

It took nearly four weeks to make an arrest in the double murder case at May’s Photo.

“Our investigators had to track down video tape literally from hundreds of different sources. When we can grab our video from one source it can make our job easier and more efficient,” said La Crosse Police Department Chief Ron Tischer.

Now the La Crosse City Vision Foundation is working on a new vision..

“We came up with the idea of getting camera system specifically for
the police department,” said Keil.

The 41 cameras would be installed onto public areas owned by the city. Police would then be able to monitor streets, allies, sidewalks and even parking ramps should their ever be a crime.

“If there was a problem at a business, we’d be able to get to those cameras as the officers are responding. This is real time video; actually what’s happening. So they can start formulating their response plan before they even get there,” said Tischer.

City Vision is working to raise $475,000 by June 30th, 2013, with a system installed and operating by September. That amount includes a reserve to add cameras in the future.

Tischer said other places they’d consider adding cameras are along the river or in other busy areas.

“The overall goal is to make downtown La Crosse a safer place,” said Keil.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation towards the Safe-Cam project, send to:
La Crosse City Vision Foundation
Safe-Cam Project
PO Box 0175
La Crosse, WI 54602

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