GAINESVILLE, TX-The city of Gainesville will soon have hundreds of cameras set up around the city that police said will help them fight crime. But residents are divided over the new eyes in the sky.
Since 2012, city officials installed 16 cameras downtown at Leonard Park and Frank Buck Zoo. Tuesday, they unanimously approved adding almost 200 more. While some residents said it will help crack down on crime, others said it's a violation of their civil rights.
Gainesville resident, Shorty Wilson said he doesn't mind having video cameras keeping watch throughout the city.
"If you stand by the law, you don't have to worry about what you're doing wrong," he said.
But Jessica Booker disagrees.
"I do not think it's a good idea, I think it's against our privacy," she said.
"We're not going into anyone's house, we're not going into your backyards, we're not going into your front yards, we're going on public property. And so the argument of an invasion of privacy, if somebody thinks quote on quote "big brother," they're already watching," said Gainesville Mayor Jim Goldsworthy.
Tuesday, city officials voted unanimously to install 194 video cameras on city property including municipal buildings, parks, city streets and the water treatment plant. Goldsworthy said the cameras will be an extra tool for police to catch criminals in the act.
"We want our neighborhoods to be safe and we're taking advantage of technology that will allow us to make that happen," he said.
Goldsworthy said the $500,000 it will cost to buy and install the cameras will be paid for out of assigned funds already raised, so it won't cost taxpayers a dime. The cameras will be able to record for ten days straight. He said he hopes the city's new investment will cut down on vandalism, burglaries and drug activity.
"A lot of nuisance crimes really, you know, it's a very very small percentage of our population that will be affected like this and hopefully they'll choose to live somewhere else," said Goldsworthy.
"I think it would be a great deal, I really do. I don't think people really realize how big our drug problem is in our little town," said Wilson.
"I understand their stance about all the crime that's going on in Gainesville. But between all the situations on the cameras, I just think that's the wrong way to go about it," said Booker.
Mayor Goldsworthy said they are expecting to have all cameras up and rolling by January. He said they will evaluate how well the new system works before they consider adding even more cameras within city limits.