Farmington gets $100K grant for more downtown video cameras

Farmington city officials on Monday approved an agreement for a $100,000 grant that will bring more video cameras to downtown Farmington.

This is the second Byrne Justice Assistance Grant awarded to Farmington Public Safety; the first, in 2012, brought cameras to the Walter E. Sundquist Pavilion and Riley Park. Among other things, those cameras helped quickly identify a young bicyclist who damaged a pavilion wall by running into it.

“We got a clear picture, and within 24 hours, he was in Public Safety with his parents,” Demers told city council members during their regular meeting.

The new grant, he said, will put cameras in parking lots north and south of Grand River, at Grove Street and Orchard Street, and behind Page’s Food & Spirts, as well as at the intersection of Grand River Avenue at Farmington Road. Video from all cameras, including those at the pavilion and park, will feed into the Public Safety Department, where they will be monitored.

Council member Bill Galvin asked how long data will be stored, how it would be used, and whether the video could be requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Demers said the cameras only record images and would not be used to target any specific group. Video from the pavilion has been shared with business owners to identify vehicles involved in criminal activity, he said. The data will be stored for just 14 days, due to storage space limitations.

“The only reason we would copy anything would be for evidence in court,” he added.

While citizens can submit a FOIA request for video, Demers said no one has requested video since the pavilion and park cameras were installed.