Video surveillance cameras will soon be going up in downtown Guelph.

It’s part of a new safety initiative, according to the Guelph Police Service.

The “CCTV cameras [will be] deployed in the downtown area to support a reduction of crime and increase feelings of safety,” the force said in a media release. “The cameras will also improve the amount and quality of evidence available for ongoing investigations.”

“It’ll give us something to go back to and look at what actually occurred that could be evidence for court,” Deputy Chief Daryl Goetz explained last July. “It could also be a deterrent.”

Police said their officers will be working out of a new Community Safety Operations Centre where they will utilize an updated call management program.

“This will see certain types of calls handled by telephone or directed to online reporting, freeing up front-line officers to respond to high-priority and in-progress calls more efficiently while reducing wait times,” they explained.

Last fall the department received $200,000 in funding to expand their closed circuit program. Police in Stratford and West Perth also got similar amounts. The funding is part of Ontario’s gun, gangs and violence reduction strategy.

A public consultation session will be held on March 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Guelph police station.

How the cameras will be used

Guelph police said they will not be actively monitoring the 14 closed-circuit camera feeds.

In the event of a serious or criminal incident, officers will review the footage to monitor safety or track suspects.

Police said only public areas will be filmed and the video won’t be kept for longer than 72 hours.

Once that point has been reached, the files will be recorded over.

Police said the video feeds will also be used to monitor large public gatherings like St. Patrick’s Day and Homecoming celebrations.

The system, however, will not replace the presence of officers on the street.

“We will maintain a presence in our downtown area, this is just another technique,” Goetz explained.

- With reporting by Tyler Kelaher