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PARC is Adding Security Cameras to Entrances and Exits of Louisville Parking Garages

Louisville's parking authority is ramping up surveillance in and around garages downtown.

At the beginning of next year, 160 new high-definition cameras keep watch over the entrances and exits of the 16 parking garages owned by Parking Authority of River City, or PARC.

PARC Director Tiffany Smith said the cameras will improve customer service for motorists using parking garages.

"We think it's going to assist in our ability to get our customers in and out of the garages in a quicker fashion," she said.

Cameras have been installed in other areas of parking garages for years, she said. But with the new cameras, PARC supervisors will now be able to monitor garages from a central location, Smith said.

If a traffic problem occurs a garage operator will be dispatched "immediately."

Smith calls this a "softer approach" to monitoring garages than before.  Previously, garage cameras have been monitored by security dispatchers located at the Louisville Gardens.

"We wanted a lot more customer service," she said.  "We wanted our operators to be monitoring the cameras, who are actually the supervisors in the garages because we felt like they did a better job at tending to our customers."

All but three of PARC owned garages are automated—meaning no human operator is present at the entrance and exit of 13 garages, Smith said.  Intercoms are present at automated garages, allowing motorists to speak directly with a PARC garage operator.

Congestion doesn't happen often at PARC garages, Smith said. It's most common at major events.

"We're just trying to stay ahead of the curve," she added.

The cameras, and all related equipment, will cost PARC about $250,000, Smith said.  The money will come from PARC's capital budget, which is funded through "any net income," such as parking meter revenue.

In three months earlier this year, PARC recorded a net cash gain from meters, garages, validations and leases of just more than $2.9 million, according to information provided by PARC.

Smith called the purchase and installation of the cameras "our happy New Year's present to our citizens and our parkers."

She said the installation of the cameras is not associated with efforts this year to boost video surveillance of downtown Louisville.

Following a string of violence on March 22, Mayor Greg Fischer ordered dozens of security cameras—paid for with $250,000 in taxpayer money—to be installed in and around Waterfront Park. In October police officials unveiled a Crime Information Center that allows civilian analysts the ability to monitor 82 cameras across the city. The analysts can then provide information to police on criminal activity.

The Crime Information Center came at a cost of $400,000, police officials said.

Smith said plans to install the cameras at entrances and exits of garages were in the works "long before" other initiatives for surveillance were launched.

But LMPD will have the ability to tap into the feed from PARC's new security cameras, Smith said.  Police will also be able to call on the footage for use in court without the need of a subpoena.

Footage collected by the cameras will be stored for 30 days, she added.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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