ATLANTA -- The city of Atlanta is beefing up its police force, not with officers, but optics. City Council members have approved the addition of more than 100 surveillance cameras, thanks to a federal grant.
On any given day, in an undisclosed location, Atlanta police officers are conducting what's called video patrols.
"We're looking at the future of policing in the city of Atlanta," said Atlanta Police's Carlos Campos.
Officers scan screens that are connected to surveillance cameras around the city, looking for crime or anything suspicious.
The city council just accepted a $2.2 million federal grant to add 112 more, and that's just the beginning.
"The video integration center is in its infancy," Campos said. "Six-hundred-fifty cameras, 750, that's just the beginning. You know we want to integrate public and private sector cameras into this system and have a vast network all over this city."
The city is said to be working with agencies like MARTA and the DOT to bolster that vast network, but already police believe this system is paying off.
Be it, better crowd control like during last year's Publix Marathon, or actual arrests.
A camera in Piedmont Park caught one man drinking beer, so an officer in the center sent a patrol car. Another camera caught a fight in broad daylight on Marietta and Broad. The images captured helped catch the parties involved.
Some people consider this type of surveillance an invasion of their privacy, but police disagree.
"These are in public places," Campos said. "The cameras are only interested in what is happening along the street. In other words, places that a beat officer would be able to see with his or her own eye."
As for those new cameras being installed over the next 9 months -- police aren't sharing exactly where they'll go, but the majority will be in Downtown and Midtown. Which means that even if there isn't an officer to be seen around, there is probably one watching, just the same.