Piedmont Park to get surveillance cameras

Piedmont Park is getting a camera surveillance system to help police monitor criminal activity.

The cameras will be at the park’s entrances at or near 10th, 12, and 14th streets as well as Park Drive. Cameras will also be at the Noguchi Playscape, the Mayor's Grove Playground and the Greystone bathhouse, near the park’s aquatic center.

The eighth one will be near the parking deck.

“I think it will make things safer,” said former Atlanta City Councilwoman Anne Fauver, who has been pushing for the cameras for years. “Some people say, ‘Well, Big Brother is watching you,’ but London is full of cameras, and people don’t realize how many are at convenience stores, ATMs, grocery stores.”

Fauver started looking for money for cameras about four years ago. There was one installed at the 12th Street entrance, but that was it, she said.

Fauver said she decided to take her annual expense account – money that she could spend on her district as she chose – and use that to help pay for additional cameras.

That money – $38,000 a year for eight years – would take care of about half of the cameras, Fauver said. She negotiated with the Piedmont Driving Club, which was building an easement through the park, on matching that amount to pay for the rest.

She then turned to the Atlanta Police Department, the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the city’s parks, recreation and cultural affairs department on where to put them.

The cameras are not a secret, Fauver said; there will be signs posted alerting park visitors that surveillance cameras are there.

She considers the signs to be just as much of a deterrent as the cameras.

“To me, the surveillance cameras really complement the police work,” she said.

The cameras will be monitored by APD officers in Zone 5, which has a precinct at Emory Midtown Hospital. Fauver said the monitoring system is large enough to support additional cameras in the park should more be added later.

To gauge how the cameras can help, Fauver points to the Midtown Blue, a group of police officers that monitors the Midtown area when they are off duty.

The Midtown Blue helped install more than 20 cameras in 2005. Since then the cameras have aided in more than 700 arrests.