Keeping Eyes On Apartments

Most municipal police departments are busy enough with tasks on public property, without adding responsibilities for surveillance more properly handled by private security personnel. So, while additional surveillance cameras at an apartment complex in Steubenville sound like an excellent idea, it may not be such a good thing for city police to have to monitor them.

Security at the privately owned Fort Steuben Apartments has been a concern for months, in the wake of several shooting incidents. Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci and city Fair Housing Practices Commission Chairwoman Gloria Crossland, noting the complex receives some support from the federal government, earlier this year wrote to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about the problem.

HUD officials have been looking into conditions at the apartments. That process, along with efforts by the housing practices commission, was discussed during a meeting Monday.

Among other improvements to the complex, changes in video surveillance cameras are planned. City Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi said owners of the complex “are looking at the possibility of tying their surveillance video cameras into the police system.”

City police officials may think that is a good idea, especially if it fills in gaps in the surveillance camera system they already monitor. But again, they have plenty to do without having to act, in effect, as helpers for private security guards at the apartment complex.

If – and only if – Steubenville police think it is a good idea, tying the complex’s video cameras into the city system should be considered as a way of boosting security at the apartments.

But if local law enforcement officials worry doing that will divert resources from other important tasks for police officers, owners and managers at the Fort Steuben Apartments should find ways to have their own security personnel available to monitor the surveillance system.