Busy park activity caught on police cameras

This real time, desktop view from Medford police's network of cameras in city parks shows officers near the foot bridge at E. 9th St and Almond St. (Courtesy: Medford Police)

Medford Police use park cameras daily to reduce criminal activity and keep people in parks and on bike paths safe. The first camera in Medford was installed three years ago in Hawthorne Park, in attempts to reduce criminal activity.

"Just about every day you can go on there and see someone committing a violation on the camera, and then we just dedicate officers into the area," Lt. Mike Budreau of the Medford Police Department said.

Two years ago, the cameras expanded to eight cameras installed in two camera pod locations within Hawthorne Park. Authorities also monitor camera pods in Alba Park and at the 9th Street footbridge. According to police, there are a total of 16 cameras.

The cameras allow police to zoom in and view details like license plates, faces, and hands to see what they're holding. Budreau said the cameras are especially useful in the summer months, because of the number of people using the parks.

"Hawthorne Park is one of our busier parks and we have a lot of calls there. We had 75 calls there in June, which sounds like a lot.. but it's actually average for summertime," said Budreau.

According to police, evidence collected from these cameras is used for investigations ranging from assault, drug use, graffiti, prohibited smoking and everything in between. Camera footage is recorded for playback, or police can view the footage live from their desktop at police headquarters downtown.

"It really helps us keep an eye on the parks when we aren't physically there. We can't be there all the time, but the cameras can be there all the time," said Budreau.

Cameras are $9,000 per pod system, but there is no cost to maintain them. The cameras are marked with blue lights.

Budreau said they modeled their program after Grants Pass Department of Public Safety installed cameras in city parks.

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