SARASOTA, Fla. -- “I’m in support of cameras,” said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. Yet on Friday, we learned a crime-fighting tool for police isn’t working.

City officials told us 19 surveillance street cameras have been down for a year; turns out it’s been longer.

DiPino said, “The cameras have been down for a number of years.”

The city and Sarasota police have known about it. The city says cameras had wireless problems, new construction blocked their view or were damaged, and some in the community didn’t want them, so they were not repaired.

The Sarasota Housing Authority installed 66 cameras in North Sarasota.

Renovation at Fredd Atkins Park had 12 cameras removed, leaving fewer than 10 streets cameras working.

When these surveillance street cameras went up in Newtown in 2010, Sarasota’s predominantly African-American community, safety was one reason. DiPino said the cameras are beneficial.

She said, “Camera scan act as a deterrent people know if they commit a crime, we can go view the cameras.”

The first three shootings in three days last week happened within view of these cameras, and with the cameras broken, some say evidence was lost.

Since then, there’s been a fourth shooting on Sunday in Newtown. DiPino said citywide, there has been around 30 shootings since January 1.

“It depends on the direction it’s pointed at, the vantage point, does it capture the crimes taking place, it may not,” said DiPino.

SPD has overseen the cameras, but soon the city may take over. It’s budgeting $150 thousand dollars to fix or replace the cameras with more advanced technology and hiring someone to oversee it. DiPino would like to see the cameras citywide.

She said, “I would like to see a strategic plan so the entire city has cameras, helps people feel safer.”

Chief DiPino is initiating these steps to help curb the gun violence in North Sarasota:

--Stepping up community policing and undercover operations

--SPD will analyze all the shootings to look for patterns

---Police are asking for the community’s help, tell police what you know about these cases

--Chief DiPino will hold a community meeting May 24 at the Robert E. Taylor Center to get feedback on how to stop the violence

--SPD is also considering a gun buyback. Police have removed 75 guns from North Sarasota so far this year.

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