ASBURY, Iowa — Asbury City Council members this week approved purchasing 16 more surveillance cameras to be placed at busy intersections and a park.
The push to increase the scope of the city’s surveillance apparatus started after investigators used surveillance footage to help track down the alleged killer of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who was killed while out running in July 2018.
“As soon as that case kind of broke, it was the tipping point,” said Asbury Police Chief Tom Henneberry. “They discovered basically, on a camera, that the suspect was following her, and that was the tipping point to say, ‘OK, we need cameras.’”
The new cameras will cost a total of $49,189.50. They will be placed at the intersections of Hales Mill Road and Park Place; Radford and Saratoga roads; and Asbury Road and Antler Ridge Drive, as well as at Cloie Creek Park.
Mayor Jim Adams said the city’s five-year “master plan” calls for the installation of cameras on busy roads and intersections in order to be able to review footage after crashes or other criminal incidents.
“We won’t monitor them actively, but we can go back and review,” he said. “It is mostly just to have eyes in the city.”
Henneberry said the city already has 46 cameras set up along Asbury Road and in parks that were purchased after Tibbetts’ killing.
So far, the cameras have assisted the police department in relation to traffic incidents as well as catching a suspect involved in a basketball hoop caper.
“We had a basketball hoop stolen in Asbury Park, and I was actually able to use the video to see the license plate,” Henneberry said.
Henneberry said the cameras also allowed the police department to find suspects who have left Asbury and driven to Dubuque.
The City of Dubuque currently has about 1,240 cameras, said Dave Ness, city traffic engineer.
“All the neighboring cities have been really good to work with,” he said. “They’ve allowed us to be more efficient at our jobs.”
Henneberry said he hopes that the new cameras will be installed before wintertime.