City looks to install more cameras at parks after Piedmont attack

The Atlanta Police Department is set to look into installing video surveillance cameras in more of the city’s parks following the fatal stabbing of Katherine Janness in Piedmont Park.

The city has nine cameras inside Piedmont Park, but the technology is obsolete and they aren’t connected to the police department’s Video Integration Center, the city’s Chief Operating Officer Jon Keen said at an Aug. 3 press conference. The VIC is a facility where officers and investigators can monitor public and private cameras placed throughout the city.

Several of Janness’ friends and family members have said the cameras weren’t working early July 28, the night Janness and her dog were killed. Keen said investigators are still working to determine if they can pull any evidence from the cameras, which were installed over 10 years ago.

No suspects have been publicly identified, but the case is a priority for investigators, police officials said.

The City Council passed a resolution Monday requesting that APD study the process and costs for installing cameras in more city parks and facilities, and report back within two months.

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

The city had been looking to expand its camera network as part of a larger crime-fighting plan. The city is planning to install 250 additional cameras by December, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.

“Video surveillance cameras have proven to be an effective tool for law enforcement officers in apprehending criminal offenders,” the resolution states, adding that the city has seen a rise in violent crime that has spilled over into the city’s parks and recreation facilities.

Just a few days before Janness’ death, police responded to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Ja’kari Dillard at Anderson Pool, a city-owned pool in the Dixie Hills neighborhood in northwest Atlanta. Police have secured a murder warrant for a suspect in that case.

ExploreMayor: No evidence of serial killer, hate crime in Piedmont Park deaths

Heather Johnson, the cousin of Janness’ girlfriend, said having more cameras can be helpful, as long as they are properly maintained over the years.

“Sure, put the cameras in, but follow up,” Johnson said Wednesday. “If they aren’t working in five years, what’s the point?”

Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who sponsored the resolution, said a large percentage of the city’s parks don’t have security cameras.

“I’m not saying we need cameras in every park. But what I’m asking (APD) to do is, do an assessment of the parks where we know categorically that there may be some calls for service, may be some crime,” Sheperd said.

The City Council passed an ordinance earlier this year looking into whether the city could re-hire retired police officers to patrol the city’s parks.

APD Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said earlier this month that investigators solve numerous cases without the help of technology.

“We have the talent and we will bring justice in this case,” he said.