Crime and security cameras are on the minds of city leaders and residents of the Soulard neighborhood. The Mardi Gras Foundation and 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar announced Thursday $218,000 in public-private funding for 16 new security cameras. The money raised is a joint project of the Soulard Restoration Group, the Soulard Business Association, and the Soulard Special Business District, and the 7th Ward.
The new Soulard cameras began with a $23,000 Mardi Gras Foundation grant. The community raised $85,000, and the 7th Ward contributed $110,000. The fundraising partnership, according to Alderman Coatar, means Soulard was able to build a more robust camera system.
“It’ll also go toward license plate readers which are critically important to the police department,” said Coatar.
“This technology, these types of partnerships get results in our community,” said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. “This project is a good model for collective community action and I believe it will make the neighborhood safer.” Coatar said installation of the cameras has already begun and should be finished by August 2017.
Judith Howard, the co-owner of Howard’s bar in Soulard is also interested in security cameras. When burglars broke into her bar in January, multiple security cameras inside and outside the bar caught pictures of the criminal, but he covered his face with a mask.
“It was a residential camera that captured the actual unmasked face of the bad guy,” said Howard.
That sparked an idea by Howard’s late mother who recently died on Valentine’s Day. Before her death, Ruth Howard donated $10,000 to purchase 55 security cameras to give to Soulard homeowners for free. Judith Howard is a contractor and is installing the home security cameras herself.
“We’ll register all of these individuals with these cameras and pass that information along to all of the police and detectives,” said Howard.
Howard is excited about the renewed emphasis on safety in the Soulard neighborhood where she has lived and worked for over 25 years.
“We are now looking to be a role model with all of these different groups working cooperatively.”