LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In the midst of Little Rock’s violent crime emergency, a critical investigative tool used by detectives is being disconnected.
Records obtained by FOX16 Investigates reveal City Hall may be slacking when it comes to paying some of the bills on time, which include police surveillance cameras.
T&C Auto Clinic Owner Billy Todd Senior operates his business on Roosevelt near Arch, across from one of the cut off police cameras.
“They should pay those bills,” Todd said. “If I owe the city, they want to get paid and they’re going to make sure that we pay them.”
There are more than 50 police security cameras across Little Rock, strategically placed to help police detectives investigate crime.
Using the state’s Freedom of Information Act, FOX16 Investigates found four police surveillance cameras ‘down for non-payment’ in the month of April.
The camera at the intersection of 36th and Barrow, which is the same area of two different homicides in the matter of months, was disconnected. The camera at LaHarpe and Clinton, not far from a triple shooting was also cut.
Statements show the city camera at Roosevelt and Arch, across from Todd’s auto shop is past due by $118.
“I’ve had cars broken into and if they had cameras up there, it would’ve made me feel a little bit better,” Todd said.
Out of the city’s 51 cameras, internal records reveal at least 34 times a camera’s bill went past due in the last six months, totaling thousands of dollars.
Detectives who monitor the cameras sent an email on February 2, 2022, alerting City Hall of a pending disconnection.
“One of our most utilized cameras is subject to be turned off if the balance isn’t paid. It is currently over $500 due,” the detective wrote.
Two months later, in April, a police employee sent another email stating the Hanger Hill neighborhood camera went into collections and called it frustrating.
Aaron Sadler, a spokesperson for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the surveillance camera outage had nothing to do with bill payments and instead blamed it on technical issues.
“The City of Little Rock has processes to ensure bills are paid correctly and on time, but there are rare instances where there are other issues that may result in delayed payments. That said, the police surveillance camera outage you mentioned had nothing to do with bill payments. Instead, it’s our understanding that was a technical issue.”Aaron Sadler, Communications Director for the office of Mayor Frank Scott Jr.
Little Rock Police Department spokesperson Mark Edwards said in a written statement that the department has uncovered a ‘primary issue.’
“Each camera had its own account and some payments had been misapplied by Comcast,” Edwards wrote. “As a result, LRPD has begun to streamline its payment process by getting all accounts moved to one main, central account.”
“The Little Rock Police Department has numerous accounts associated with Comcast regarding some of its surveillance cameras. Historically, there are a numerous reasons these cameras can go offline; technology, modem, and atmospheric conditions to name a few. In evaluation, one of the primary issues we have discovered is that each camera has its own account with Comcast Cable. At this writing, while each camera is known to be assigned a separate account, all payments are current to-date, per Accounts Payable. Recently, we were informed by Accounts Payable that some payments had been misapplied by Comcast. As a result, LRPD has begun to streamline its payment process by getting all accounts moved to one main, central account. This will help ensure not only a more timely payment process but also more accurate application of payments going forward.”Mark Edwards, LRPD Public Information Officer
Edwards wrote that all the cameras’ accounts are up to date on payments and they’re in the process of merging all the accounts into one, so this doesn’t happen again.
The police department noted there could be other reasons for cameras to go offline, such as technology and atmospheric conditions.
Back at Todd’s auto shop on Roosevelt, he questions how this has gone on for so long and hopes for both his shop’s and the city’s sake that this type of issue doesn’t continue.
“The city has enough money,” Todd said. “These belong to the city and we need them.”