No Loan for Cameras

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The city's legislative body said no with a 4-4 vote on the mayor's request for permission to get a loan up to $350,000 to pay for the ten surveillance cameras he'd touted as the centerpiece of a crime-fighting plan.

"They work," he says, arguing that they helped caught a serial killer in Kansas. He says they will reduce court costs by making prosecution easier. He also says they will prevent crime, because criminals don't want to be caught on camera.

Opposition to the idea is widespread. Some say watching troubled neighborhoods is a big brother-like invasion of city rights. Other simply don't trust the cameras to make a difference.

"All the people are going to go someplace else because they know where the cameras are," worries Jerry Estes, who lives on the eastside.

On the question of priorities, city councilwoman Carol Wood, who's mom Ruth Hallman was murdered in July, says she wants to make the city safer--with more officers.

"An additional 1 or 2 officers out there over the next 10 years would give us that opportunity," Wood says.

Bernero calls that a false choice, comparing it to the question of officers or guns. "I want officers with guns."

The mayor says these cameras are those same essential tools. Wood argues the city doesn't have the resources to make them work at their potential.

The stage is now set for a battle over budget power. The mayor says he will find the money in the general fund or elsewhere "We will buy the cameras in the next best, the next most efficient way to do it," Bernero says.

He said at the council meeting he has already raised some money from local businesses to that effect.

Some on council say that's against the city's laws.

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