Atlanta City Council Votes to Install Cameras in Public Parks

Cameras in Atlanta Public Parks


Katherine Janness was walking her dog in Piedmont Park after midnight on July 28th when someone attacked and stabbed both her and her dog resulting in the death of both of them. This was the main provoking point of cameras being installed in public parks. There has been a rise in homicides since 2019 in the Atlanta area and the main objective of City Hall is to deter violent crimes. The situation in Atlanta has grown out of control with more frequent killings. Atlanta City Hall feels as if they have to act upon this very soon. During the Monday meeting on the 23rd of August, the council asked the Atlanta Police Department to begin installing cameras into parks observable from the APD’s Video Integration Center. The approximation for the spending is about 1.6 million dollars and the cameras will be police mandated and closely observed by The Video Integration Center (VIC). The VIC team was launched in 2007 and observes reportedly around 12,800 cameras. However, most of these cameras are in places like the Hartsfield Jackson Airport or just private cameras. But the police department is not allowed to record these due to privacy laws

Lance Orchid is the chief of staff for Councilwoman Ide on the Atlanta City Council. “There was a huge surge from the public saying they don’t feel safe,” says Lance. The cameras were a response to the public, but according to him, the mayor had been pushing for the cameras to be installed since before then. However, the council cannot approve cameras in public places not owned by the city, so, unfortunately, local mandated parks will not be receiving any cameras. An example given of a park that will not be receiving cameras is North Highland Park in Virginia Highlands. While some people are worried about safety according to Lance Orchid “Some people worry about too much surveillance endangering privacy”. This argument should also be recognized as he also says that many people call in or speak up about their negative opinion. There is a very split response to cameras from the public but the city council still feels as if it is very necessary and cameras are being installed by the APD and should be finished by October 1st.

Piedmont Park is the central point of the tension and where the most cameras will be. There were cameras in Piedmont Park before the incident but they were not active and working at the time. According to Lance, “The park officials knew the cameras weren’t working but did not repair them”. Along with taking out the old cameras, they are also putting in many new cameras. It’s not going to be a 1:1 ratio; they are installing many more than there were before. Piedmont is a very popular public place and cameras cannot be overlooked, so in response to this, VIC will now have access to more cameras. 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. The City of Atlanta has installed a number of new cameras as well as License plate readers, PTZ cameras, and Quad PTZ cameras. Even though many are opposed to this idea, it makes living in these areas safer.

Public parks and areas get the opportunity for new cameras; however, privately owned facilities such as local parks do not receive any cameras. So while many places under the protection of the city can receive many new surveillance tools, the places that don’t fall under these boundaries will not be as lucky. There is no amount of pushing from the city that could make these places have cameras, if, for example, if people in the city of Decatur wanted cameras in their local parks because they felt unsafe they could not just tell the city hall that cameras were mandated for all parks in the Atlanta area. Unfortunately because of this, the city council can do their best but they can’t fully deter the crime.