Safe-cams help identify Sunday morning gunman

Robert Powell was in court today, charged with shooting a firearm in downtown La Crosse early Sunday. He may not have been identified if it weren’t for Safe-cams established throughout the city.

“We can use that video to piece together a case.” Captain Jason Melby sees the Safe-cams as worth the cost.

“If we can clear one homicide, does that mean it was worth it? Yes.”

The Safe-cams have been used by the city for the past few years, and with more than 40 cameras in downtown, were able to track Powell’s movement after the shot was fired.

“If something happens over here, and then he runs into this camera angle, and then he goes southbound into this camera angle, we can follow him,” explained the Captain.

But the Police weren’t able to identify the suspect on the camera alone.

“They’re intended to help cover the generalized area.”

With the area covered on camera, police turned to those with more focused angles.

“Private businesses are more focused on a door entryway where you can get a good, clear shot of a face.”

Working with the community is how the city identifies suspects, and how the cameras were funded in the first place.

“We were provided the infrastructure of the Safe-cam system through private fundraising.”

Mike Keil helped in the process to get cameras in La Crosse.

“It’s really gratifying for City Vision Foundation to know that Safe-cam is doing what it’s supposed to do.”

“It makes us be able to do our job more efficiently, effectively, and apprehend people who commit crimes in the downtown area,” said Melby.

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