Security cameras to overlook Bradenton's Riverwalk

jtate@bradenton.comJuly 12, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Plans for the Bradenton Riverwalk include security cameras.

City officials said surveillance cameras aren't needed yet, but installing them will continue to keep the Riverwalk a safe place. The cameras are all about maintaining resident well-being, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority Director Dave Gustafson said.

"It's not an abundance of police reports that are making us do this," said Gustafson. "We always want to be proactive as much as we can."

Bradenton Police Department reports indicate Riverwalk crime consists mainly of suspicious activity reports and traffic stops.

Mayor Wayne Poston and city council have directed the DDA to make sure the Riverwalk remains a main city attraction, Gustafson said.

Details on where, when and how many cameras will be installed have not been worked out, Gustafson said. Before Riverwalk opened, he said. the main concern of residents was safety while enjoying the amenities.

Bradenton Deputy Chief Warren Merriman said the cameras serve as a virtual police officer supplementing the established police presence and community patrol.

"Its presence would be a deterrent to would-be violators," said Merriman. "If you know you're being watched, you may not commit the crime."

Merriman said cameras should be placed in highly populated places such as the dock, amphitheater and skate park.

Bradenton residents Tristan DeRider and Adam Rojas said surveillance cameras would make them feel more comfortable coming to the Riverwalk at night. The two friends came to the Riverwalk with DeRider's son Thursday afternoon to enjoy the afternoon breeze.

"It would be better, a lot better," said Rojas, adding he probably wouldn't come out to the Riverwalk now at night.

The friends remembered when the Riverwalk area wasn't the safest place to be, but now DeRider feels safe bringing her son there to play.

"Probably to keep it this nice, the cameras would be better," said DeRider.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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