LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Amid Little Rock’s violent crime emergency, a critical investigative tool used by detectives goes offline.
Records obtained by FOX16 Investigates reveal City Hall can slack off on paying some of the bills on time, including police surveillance cameras.
T&C Auto Clinic owner Billy Todd Senior operates his business on Roosevelt near Arch, in front of one of the cut police cameras.
“They should be paying those bills,” Todd said. “If I owe the city, they want to get paid and they’re going to make sure we pay them.”
There are over 50 police security cameras across Little Rock, strategically placed to help police detectives investigate crimes.
Using the state’s Freedom of Information Act, FOX16 Investigates found four police surveillance cameras “broken for non-payment” in April.
The camera at the intersection of 36th and Barrow, which is the same area of two different homicides within months, was disconnected. The camera at LaHarpe and Clinton not far from a triple shot was also cut out.
Statements show the city camera at Roosevelt and Arch, across from Todd’s auto shop, is $118 overdue.
“I’ve had cars broken into and if they had cameras up there it would have made me feel a little better,” Todd said.
Of the city’s 51 cameras, internal records show that at least 34 times a camera bill has fallen due in the past six months, totaling thousands of dollars.
Detectives monitoring the cameras sent an email on February 2, 2022, alerting City Hall to an impending disconnect.
“One of our most used cameras is likely to be turned off if the balance is not paid. It is currently over $500 owed,” the detective wrote.
Two months later, in April, a police employee sent another email stating that the Hanger Hill neighborhood camera had entered collections and calling it frustrating.
Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., said the surveillance camera outage had nothing to do with paying bills and instead blamed it on technical issues.
“The City of Little Rock has processes in place to ensure bills are paid correctly and on time, but there are rare instances where other issues may cause late payments. That said, the police surveillance camera failure you mentioned has nothing to do with paying the bills. Instead, we figured out it was a technical issue.
Aaron Sadler, director of communications for the office of Mayor Frank Scott Jr.
Little Rock Police Department spokesman Mark Edwards said in a written statement that the department uncovered a “primary problem.”
“Each camera had its own account and some payments were misapplied by Comcast,” Edwards wrote. “As a result, LRPD has begun to streamline its payment process by moving all accounts 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 many reasons why these cameras can go offline; technology, modem and atmospheric conditions to name a few. During the evaluation, one of the main problems we discovered was that each camera has its own account with Comcast Cable. As of this writing, while each camera is known to be assigned a separate account, all payments are current to date, by accounts payable. Recently, we were notified by Accounts Payable that some payments were misapplied by Comcast. As a result, LRPD began streamlining its payment process by moving all accounts to a central master account. This will help ensure not only a faster payment process, but also more accurate application of payments in the future. »
Mark Edwards, LRPD Public Information Officer
Edwards wrote that all camera accounts are up to date on payments and they are in the process of merging all accounts into one so this won’t happen again.
The police department noted that there could be other reasons the cameras go offline, such as technology and weather conditions.
Back at Todd’s auto shop on Roosevelt, he wonders how it’s gone on for so long and hopes for both the love of his shop and the town that this kind of trouble doesn’t continue.
“The city has enough money,” Todd said. “These belong to the city and we need them.”