Call 6: Dozens of surveillance cameras out of service at Indianapolis apartments

Housing agency documents detail months-long issues

INDIANAPOLIS — Residents at public housing complexes throughout the city are concerned for their safety after Call 6 Investigates uncovered several nonfunctioning surveillance cameras at the housing sites.

According to confidential Indianapolis Housing Agency internal reports obtained by Call 6 Investigates, many of their high-use surveillance cameras were either not working or have been in and out of service for months in buildings where a majority of residents are seniors and people with disabilities.

Diane Miller lives at the Barton Annex at 501 N. East St. and fears for her safety with several surveillance cameras out of order.

"That's why the camera should work," Miller said. "If I'm bludgeoned to death in the elevator they will know who did it."

Torrance Johnson, who is also a resident at an IHA property, says all surveillance cameras should be working. "Every camera is vital," Johnson said. "It can be a parking lot, side of the building, it can be anywhere that a crime can happen here."

Call 6 Investigates has uncovered that 34 out of 113 high-use and profile surveillance cameras have been out of order for three months at Barton Tower,  Barton Annex, Lugar Tower and 16 Park. That's nearly one-third of all cameras.

"If it’s been 90 days, it's too long," Miller said. "I think we should have all the cameras working."

IHA's weekly reports have detailed the issues month after month. Based on the internal documents, another 13 surveillance cameras have been out of order for four months at Barton Tower, Blackburn Terrace and Indiana Avenue.

The lack of working of cameras limits what police can see, and makes it impossible to record video evidence of crimes in progress. In the past, the surveillance cameras have documented crimes at the housing complexes and assisted police in identifying suspects.

In September, the cameras were helpful in leading to the arrest of a man who attacked a mother of two.

In August, video recordings helped identify a tenant who attempted to throw a chair at an office worker.

The cameras also documented an incident in which a trespasser refused to leave the premises and had to be arrested; a purse snatcher; and a separate trespasser who was spotted wearing a disguise while strolling the halls of Barton Tower.

"I have arthritis. I have falls," Johnson said. "So yes, I would want the cameras to work in case I fall and I can't get up. The cameras should be working. Hello!"

IHA released the following statement to RTV6 minutes before our story aired Thursday evening, which was almost a month after our initial media request was made on September 11. 

"The DVR problems at the Millikan were related to 1) a defective breaker/power line to the server room (replaced this week) causing a server room outlet to go dead, and 2) a defective switch, under Smartnet warranty.  IHA has received a replacement power supply for the switch this week and it has been replaced, returning it to full functionality.

IHA has also had the vendor inspect the properties with the most significant outages.  The vendor has re-enabled a few cameras that were simple fixes (i.e. loose connections). 

The vendor has also provide quotes for several properties where cameras need to be replaced.

As it stands today as you will see in the report attached, 71 (17%) of the 422 cameras at all locations either offline or exhibiting interference, poor focus or exposure. And as noted above, IHA is working with the vendor to address these issues."

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