Dubuque boasts more than 800 cameras in the city - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque boasts more than 800 cameras in the city

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When it comes to keeping an eye on it's streets, Dubuque officials say they're one of the best.

David Ness, a civil engineer for the city, says there are 877 camera currently in the city.  420 of those are traffic cameras, 225 are in parking ramps and 232 are in miscellaneous spots.  Ness says he believes there are no cities in the state of Iowa with more.

"I can't tell you how valuable they've been," said Lt. Scott Baxter with the Dubuque Police.

Police now routinely consult footage from the cameras, whether it be for a burglary, shots fired incident or a violent crime.

Baxter says it was instrumental in helping them catch Helmon Betwell, the man accused of murdering Nancy Krapfl in Sept. 2015.

He says it's changed the way they do their police work.

"20 years ago when I came on, it wasn't really an option. And now officers, they tend to rely on it, tend to expect it. And I think the citizens do now too, as a result of the volume we have," Baxter said.

The cameras themselves are fixed, meaning they don't pan, tilt or zoom.  They cover the street from sidewalk to sidewalk, meaning they aren't that invasive.

"These cameras are positioned in a way that they're in a public venue. They're not recording or seeing anything that officers on patrol wouldn't be able to see. We're not pointing them into people's houses and invading privacy," Baxter said.

But the cameras are used for more than just investigations.

City engineers study traffic patterns and accidents, making changes to the flow of traffic around the city to keep people as safe as they can be.

People are also allowed to come in to look at video of accidents, whether it be for insurance or for a police report.

And while there are 877 now, Ness says they have plans to install more.  In fact, he estimates the city will have at least 1,000 operational cameras by the end of 2016.

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