NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There are now fewer on-street parking options along downtown Norfolk’s Granby Street, and it’s all in the name of safety.
This week, six mobile solar powered camera units were placed in street parking spots every few blocks with the intent they will be used to help police keep an eye on crowds.
“They are a force multiplier for us,” City Manager Chip Filer said in making the announcement during Tuesday’s City Council workshop.
The use of surveillance cameras will be a first in the downtown area. They were requested by the Downtown Norfolk Civic League following a quintuple shooting on March 19 that left three people dead and two others injured outside Chicho’s Backstage.
At this point, it’s believed no video of the shooting exists.
The cameras will go live this weekend and Filer said they will be moved around the city depending on the need.
“The surveillance cameras are being rented by the City of Norfolk from LiveView Technologies for approximately $1,300 a month and will be monitored by members of the Norfolk Police Department,” a spokesperson from the Norfolk Police Department wrote in an email.
The spokesperson went on to say that “select personnel” in the department’s central records division were trained on the cameras and will have access to the recordings. The department is still evaluating how they may monitor cameras in real time.
Wednesday, Jed Jenson was helping to set up the LiveView surveillance portable cameras Norfolk put in place.
“It shoots everything back in real-time via WiFi. It’s got a built-in router in the box, so it can be sent in real-time,” Jenson said. “It’s got strobe lights, a camera, and the police have direct access to all six of them, so if they see something going on up and down the street, they take care of it.”
Jenson said the cameras can be moved remotely and see about a block and a half.
So far they are being received positively by business owners.
“I think it will be helpful. I think it will be very helpful, and it will be a useful deterrent [to stop crime] for the City of Norfolk,” said Granby Street Pizza Owner Peter Freda.
Passerby, Johnny Mack also approved.
“I think it is great. I think it is awesome, and I think we need to put more of them up and down Granby and other places. It’s great to make sure everyone is safe and secure, and I approve of it,” Mack said.
The only complaint a reporter heard — heard it twice — is the six portable cameras on their stands take up a total of six coveted parking spots along Granby Street.
“I think it is pretty nice to have them. They [Norfolk] should have picked better parking spots though,” Jenson said with a laugh.
It isn’t only cameras on the street the city is concerned about.
Filer on Tuesday also told City Council members that repairs to parking garage cameras were continuing, but at a slower pace. It was a 10 On Your Side investigation that exposed that a majority of the cameras in city parking garages were not working.
“We are running into a lag in that there aren’t enough parts,” Filer said. He said they are having to order them.
The cameras were just part of Filer’s strategy to improve safety downtown.
Filer also committed to beefing up enforcement inspections on businesses. He said the Norfolk Fire Marshal’s Office reported that nightclubs in particular are doing a “good job” with crowd control.
Quarterly meetings will now be held with all those who hold conditional use permits.
Councilwoman Courtney Doyle, who represents the area, said the additional officer presence downtown has been noticed and appreciated.