Pinellas Trail now has 16 unblinking eyes

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The first security cameras on the Pinellas Trail are now activated. 

Prior crimes, including the savage pistol-whipping of an armed robbery victim, led police to identify a three-quarter mile stretch of Trail from 43rd Street South to 49th Street South as the highest priority.  Now that the cameras are activated, "This is a laptop that every officer has in his cruiser," St. Petersburg Police Officer Mitch Detty explained, pointing to his impact-hardened laptop. "Officers can take a view of it anytime that they're in the area, or remotely from the station."

The 16 cameras record constantly, with what they see stored on servers for 30 days.  There are also numerous red signs along the trail announcing their presence. 

"Here we want to tell people that you're being recorded, so don't do anything bad here," city transportation manager Evan Mory said. 

The city already has a platform to operate other cameras in numerous locations " we really added onto a system that we already had," Mory explained.

The pilot project cost $125,000 and included basic infrastructure for expanding the string of high-resolution cameras to the east, from 43rd Street S to 34th Street S.  Detty said that stretch of Pinellas Trail is identified as the second-highest priority for security cameras. 

However, a way to pay for them has not been identified, nor will expansion cameras be priced until the first installation verifies its value to law enforcement.