NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Big changes are being made in the name of safety and security inside Norfolk’s parking garages, and it’s a 10 On Your Side success story.

After someone stole the man’s car from a garage, he learned the surveillance cameras weren’t even working. 

The victim had no way to identify the suspect. 

So, he called us.  

The city moved quickly following our report, beginning with Norfolk City Manager Dr. Chip Filer, who was proactive in realizing budget priorities and had to change to put safety first. 

It all began in February 2022 when Jack Rowsey, a paraplegic, had his car stolen from the Boush Street city owned parking garage.

“I know there was a camera right above my car,” Rowsey said at the time. “I cannot get anyone to pull or pinpoint a picture or a mug shot of who did this.” 

What Rowsey did not know?

He parked under a camera that was not working, even though a parking garage sign read “Garage Monitored by Surveillance Cameras.”  

Our investigation found eight of Norfolk’s parking garages had no surveillance cameras operating. 

Following our investigation, there was a shift in budget priority. 

“The goal here is to have all garages to have brand new security technology by the end of the year,” Filer told City Council.

A week ago, the city put online a parking garage safety video on how that goal has been accomplished.   

Working cameras are now in all 14 parking garages. 

“We have replaced all our camera systems in our garages with new cameras,” a city of Norfolk safety video stated. “These cameras are all recording 100 percent operable.”

The voice of the safety video is from Norfolk Parking Director Ray Stone, who said the cameras are checked every Friday.

“We want to make sure all the cameras are functioning,” Stone said. “If a camera isn’t functioning, that is given to our IT partners and given to a third party to determine why it is not monitoring.”

He added that the city has “also have revamped half of our systems. We went from low efficiency light to high efficiency LED lights, and it is a brighter whiter light.”

Stoner pointed to one of the new LED lights in the Fountain Park Garage.

“We have three sets of lights one in the center,” Stoner said. “We get more candle power though by putting two rows rather than having three. It’s an energy saver and it is a much whiter brighter light.”

On the video Stoner added that “we outsource it to a private security firm, the Norfolk Police Department and the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.” 

Stoner expanded on what the video surveillance does.

“We have the flexibility with our three different entities to move these officers around to different locations,” Stoner said. “No one really knows the schedule for them, so it provides for a safer product for our parking customers.”

The video is the brainchild of Norfolk’s Director of Communications and Marketing, Chris Jones.

“We want to visually illustrate that to show these changes had been made,” Jones said. “We want them to know it is coming from the mayor and city council to city manager to staff to make sure people had that extra comfort (of a safe environment).”

Stoner acknowledged 10 On Your Side’s reporting, noting that something was not right.

“We listen to our citizens, we listen to our customers, we listen to the media and we make adjustments when things aren’t right,” Stoner said.

The next course of action is to get Norfolk’s next city budget to include LED lights in the five remaining parking garages.   

So far seven have them.