The City Council will hold a public hearing March 13 to get input on a proposal to install surveillance cameras in downtown Colorado Springs.
The decision to postpone action on the surveillance cameras offers what could be the council’s new strategy to use the “political process” to work to its advantage as advised by City Attorney Chris Melcher.
Council members had not been informed of the Police Department’s plan to install 10 video surveillance cameras downtown until days before Chief Pete Carey made a presentation at the Feb. 27 informal council meeting.
“Council has postponed action on the requested appropriation ordinance to allow the community adequate time …to comment on the proposal,” according to a press release issued Wednesday by council Liaison Aimee Cox.
“The first opportunity to schedule the ordinance for action is March 27, 2012. A second reading could be scheduled as early as April 10, 2012. Council will give direction on the ordinance following the hearing,” the press release states.
In an interview, Cox said the council is holding a public hearing as a “tool for civic engagement.”
“This is an opportunity for the council to listen to the community,” she said. “As opposed to having folks speak on behalf of the community, the community can step up and speak on its own behalf.”
The public hearing will begin at 3 p.m. in council chambers during the March 13 formal meeting at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.
In a statement, council President Scott Hente said creating a vibrant downtown is important to the city’s long-term success.
“Council wants to have a thoughtful dialogue with City staff and the community about issues downtown and effective ways to address those issues,” he said in the statement.
“We know that community support is critical to the success of any program,” he added. “Based on our own experience and the best practices recommended by the Urban Institute in a study of the use of surveillance cameras in other communities, getting public input is the right thing to do.”
Cox said the proposal calls for spending $188,025 to install 10 surveillance cameras along Tejon Street from Rio Grande to Boulder streets.
On Feb. 29, Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko, who represents downtown, asked Hente to shelve the proposal and pull the item from the next council agenda.
At the time, Czelatdko said she was unaware of the proposal even though it affected her district.