The Safe-Cam Project was started in 2013 following a crime that occurred in Downtown La Crosse in 2012. Police had to rely on private cameras to solve the crime and make an arrest. Collecting data from private cameras was time-consuming, and added weeks to the investigation.
The City Vision Foundation solicited public donations to fund a camera system for the La Crosse Police Department. Our goals were to:
- provide investigative efficiencies for the Police Department
- provide a deterrent for would-be criminals
- ultimately make Downtown La Crosse a safer place.
The City Vision Foundation raised over $450,000 to install the Safe-Cam system.
There are now 79 cameras that serve the downtown area. The system has the ability to add private cameras, allowing additional coverage at minimal cost. There are now 11 cameras from five private businesses that are part of the system, bringing the total number of cameras to 90.
Safe-Cam Success Stories
2019 – There was a large disturbance in the downtown area during bar hours. Prior to police involvement, it erupted with gunshots being fired. The Safe-Cam system helped responding officers quickly determine what was occurring and the suspect’s direction of travel. Ultimately the suspect was identified through the use of the Safe-Cam which led to a successful prosecution and prison sentence.
2020 – La Crosse Police took a report of a burglary of a downtown business. The Safe-Cam assisted the investigator in identifying the time of the incident, the path of the suspect, the identity of the suspect, and ultimately the prosecution of the suspect.
2021 – Through the use of the Safe-Cam coupled with an automated license plate reader, police investigators were able to arrest the suspect in the theft of a $12,000 boat trailer and a $9000 mower, resulting in the property being recovered.
2022 – Officers were sent to a downtown bar for a battery complaint where a patron attacked one of the bouncers. The suspect was located on Safe-Cam video, tracked through the downtown area, and then identified the vehicle and license plate he fled in. Ultimately, police were able to give out the suspect information. A short time later, Onalaska Police located the vehicle and apprehended the suspect. During the arrest, officers located a loaded handgun, evidence of drug dealing, and $10,000 cash.
Announcing Safe-Cam Project Phase 2
In February 2022, a UW-La Crosse student drowned in the Mississippi River.
A few months later, a recent UW-L graduate asked if the Safe-Cam system could be expanded to include more cameras between downtown and the river.
The objective of the additional cameras is to provide the police department with a tool to possibly intercept people who are in danger of entering the river.
Our fundrasing goal for Phase 2 is $50,000.
The recent graduate described above is Carolyn Knobloch, who will be the fundraising chairperson for this next phase.
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