The Brooklyn Center Police Department on Friday rolled out its first mobile camera trailer, a tool that city officials hope will deter crime and help officers catch anybody committing unlawful acts.
The unit, which features a trailer with a 360-degree camera mounted on a 20-foot pole, will be stationed in the parking lot of the Shingle Creek Crossing shopping area, which Police Chief Kellace McDaniel called a "hotspot for crime."
"It's a great day for us," the chief said during a news conference in the retail center parking lot. "This is a high-crime area, so we are doing everything we can with officers and technology to make sure people in the community are safe. You deserve to be safe and that is our job."
Brooklyn Center contributed $25,000 to pay for the unit, and the city's Crime Prevention Board teamed up with business owners, retailers, apartment complexes and community organizations over the past year to raise an additional $29,000. Concerns about a rising number of assaults and car thefts at the shopping complex led to the partnership.
"We jumped in because this is a tool for the Police Department," said Matt Oquist with Luther Automotive Group, which has 540 employees working in the north metro city. "Nobody wants to do anything by [the camera], and it also will help catch criminals who do so we can hold them accountable."
Jon Rose, TJ Maxx store manager, said he has seen incidents in the parking lot outside the store.
"It definitely is a welcome sight," he said.
But he said he is unsure how much the camera will help.
"I don't know if it will deter people from stealing from outside the store," Rose said. "They run to the bus stop and they are gone."
The camera will not replace officers who routinely patrol the area, but will provide another set of eyes, McDaniel said. The camera will beam images back to the police station, where staff members can watch video feeds in real time and dispatch additional officers when necessary.
Walmart, the largest tenant in the center on the property of the former Brookdale between Bass Lake Road and Hwy. 100, already has a trailer camera in the parking lot. Several retailers also have their own cameras. Brooklyn Center hopes to connect with those systems, McDaniel said.
Though it will be primarily stationed at Shingle Creek Crossing, the mobile camera could be deployed to other places in the city, said City Council Member Dan Jerzak.