Denver Parks and Recreation is deploying a system of advanced cameras to a series of public parks, continuing a recent ramp-up in its use of surveillance technology.
The most recent additions include Commons Park, where DPR recently activated a wireless network of nine camera stations that can provide panoramic views at any time of day or night.
This is part of an expansion of the parks department’s use of cameras that began around 2015, coinciding with mounting discussion of drug use and the persistent presence of homeless people in the city’s central parks. All of the new cameras include infrared illuminators and sensors for night vision.
“It has to do with … the safety of the park users and the park visitors. We don’t have a park ranger that we can staff 24/7 in each park,” said Cyndi Karvaski, parks spokeswoman.
“I wish we did have the staffing to be at all of our parks all the time, but we just don’t have the bandwidth.”
This year marks the first time that Denver parks has expanded its cameras’ purview beyond recreation centers and golf courses.
The city also has recently completed installations at Parkfield Lake Park and Lincoln-La Alma Park.
St. Charles Park will follow later this year, as will two maintenance facilities on Jason Street. The total cost for this year’s expansion is $104,000, entirely funded through the parks budget.
Denver Police Department already operates its own “HALO” cameras with coverage of some of these areas, including Commons Park. (See a map of that system here.)
The parks cameras are monitored to some degree in real time, allowing parks staff to, say, send a staffer to ask people to disperse from “Stoner Hill.” They also can be used to spot maintenance problems, such as a fallen tree or a damaged pathway, Karvaski said.
The cameras will retain imagery for 30 days, allowing for the investigation of crimes after the fact. Denver police also will have access to the system.