Surveillance cameras coming to University City side of Delmar Loop

2012-04-05T00:15:00Z 2012-04-27T16:52:11Z Surveillance cameras coming to University City side of Delmar LoopBY MARGARET GILLERMAN • mgillerman@post-dispatch.com > 314-725-6758 stltoday.com

UNIVERSITY CITY • Surveillance cameras will be installed in the Delmar Loop this summer — possibly as early as June — as part of stepped-up efforts to monitor the large crowds of youths that sometimes gather there on weekends.

The cameras have been in the works for more than a year, and their installation schedule is unrelated to the two shootings Saturday night in the East Loop.

University City Police Chief Charles Adams said Wednesday that beefed-up patrols begun last summer by his department and the St. Louis Police Department had been in place last weekend, and would continue for the rest of the summer.

"I think the Loop is a good place," Adams said. To the public, he said, "You come down and judge for yourself."

The idea for the cameras arose after a flare-up in the Loop in 2008. Adams then presented a security proposal that included the police patrols, stricter curfews for teenagers and the cameras.

The City Council approved a stricter curfew — it's now 9 p.m. for youths under 17 — and police have increased patrols, in conjunction with Washington University, the Metro transit agency and St. Louis police.

Business owners made another push for the cameras last year after a few unruly teens caused a disruption, and the city subsequently allocated $160,000 for the cameras.

Adams said that a consultant, Facility Control Systems of St. Charles County, is designing the cameras.

The plan calls for installing at least six cameras along or close to Delmar Boulevard between the eastern city boundary near Westgate Avenue through the lot behind Cicero's bar/restaurant on the west.

Jessica Bueler, president of the Loop Special Business District in University City, said she and Joe Edwards, president of the East Loop's Special Business District, were working closely with law enforcement and others on the camera surveillance.

"We want to see how much it would cost for 100 percent (camera surveillance) coverage of the Loop, and we are meeting about every week with a security camera committee," Bueler said.

Bueler said the cameras being installed this summer were state-of-the-art and could reach into the city side of the Loop where the shootings occurred.

There were two disruptions Saturday night. At 8:30 p.m., a crowd of 200 to 300 young people gathered at Skinker and Delmar boulevards, St. Louis police said. Police forced that crowd to disperse. Fights broke out, and one person fired shots into the air.

Thirty to 40 police officers responded, and the area was cleared.

Then just after 11 p.m., shots were fired in the parking lot of a Church's Chicken at Delmar and Skinker. A 19-year-old and a 17-year-old were shot. Both victims were listed in stable condition Sunday; their current conditions were unavailable.

St. Louis police said Wednesday that no arrests had been made and that officers were working to identify a suspect.

CURFEWS

While the U. City part of the Loop has the 9 p.m. curfew, the East Loop is governed by the city's curfew of midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. other nights for youths under 17.

Alderman Lyda Krewson, whose 28th Ward encompasses the eastern stretch of the Delmar Loop, says the shootings had renewed discussion among city officials about a curfew to match University City's.

However, she said she is generally not in favor of curfews and isn't convinced a Loop-specific curfew is the solution because it might just force troublemakers into other parts of St. Louis. She said it is also important not to interfere with the rights of well-behaved teens to patronize Loop businesses.

"University City's stringent curfew does present some challenges for the city, with managing crowds and behavior," Krewson said. But by tightening a curfew, "are we just pushing the problem around? I think it's a little more complicated (in St. Louis) than in University City."

She said there are no city security cameras in the East Loop, but many businesses have them. She said it will take coordination by police departments, business owners and residents to help prevent future incidents.

"The solution involves engaging all of these folks, but that doesn't mean we're not going to allow kids to walk down the sidewalks," she said.

Joel Currier of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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