Safe & Secure: Painesville Intersection Crime Camera System Helps Painesville PD

The Painesville Police Department has been hard at work the last three years installing intersection surveillance cameras as a new police strategy to combat crime.
Cities worldwide, including in the state of Ohio, have embraced police surveillance cameras in public spaces to increase community safety. Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton and many other Ohio law enforcement agencies have installed cameras to help reduce crime, identify criminal offenders, and hold officers accountable.
The Painesville Intersection Crime Camera System (PICCS) is different from traffic cameras or license plate readers. While the goal of the former technology is to catch driving offenses or capture license plate numbers, PICCS is used to assist in investigations, officer complaints and serious accidents.
Painesville City is the first in Lake County to have a city-wide safety camera system. There are currently 20 active intersections with work continuing to install additional cameras in the coming year.



The PICCS Project started as a 2017 capstone project for Administrative Lieutenant Toby Burgett’s Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) class. Lt Burgett began thinking about a camera system after a homicide investigation, noting how quickly police could gather leads in the investigation if video footage of a vehicle or suspect was available.
In 2019, discussions regarding a new Painesville Police Levy began. Painesville Police Chief Daniel Waterman, Lt Burgett and former City Manager Monica Irelan met to discuss what type of equipment could help the police department, the cost and if it should be included in the levy that would be decided on by voters. Phase 1 on the PICCS Project was proposed with an original budget of $465,000 and in November 2019, Painesville voters approved the levy.
The police department started a request for proposals and learned that a wireless camera system was not ideal for Painesville City due to the density of trees that block wireless signals. Because of this, fiber was the ideal choice. Then in March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic halted supply chains around the world. For the next two years, fiber was a difficult material to source and with rising inflation rates, the original phase 1 plan was scaled down to fewer cameras to work within the original budget.
In 2022, the Painesville Police applied for and received $136,482.60 from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services Violent Crimes Grant. This meant additional intersection cameras were purchased and added to the network. The original vision of the PICCS Project was coming together.
About the Cameras

In March 2023, there are currently 20 active intersection cameras, with work continuing to install additional cameras for phase 2 of the project. The goal is to have 36 key intersections covered in the city.
Today, Painesville Police’s intersection cameras are used daily and have already assisted in solving multiple cases for both the PPD and neighboring law enforcement agencies. While video can be monitored live, the cameras are primarily used for review purposes. Video footage is stored for a minimum of two weeks on Painesville Police servers, unless otherwise saved as evidence by officers and investigators.

Painesville City’s cameras are the first of their kind in Lake County. While many surrounding communities have license plate readers, they are typically rented on an annual basis. The Painesville Police camera network is more like a web, connecting intersections and providing a total view to officers. The city owns and maintains the system, giving Painesville Police the flexibility to customize it to their specific needs.
“We feel privileged to have the initiative to be the first community in Lake County to begin a project such as this. It speaks volumes to the commitment we have to improve our effectiveness as a department in solving and deterring crimes from occurring,” said Lt. Burgett.
According to department leadership, keeping Painesville safe has always been the top priority for the Painesville Police Department. They believe the new camera system provides three main benefits:


    • Improves Public Safety
Just like installing a doorbell camera at your home, police gain increased security from surveillance cameras in intersections, where pedestrians may be driving, biking or walking. Instead of relying on businesses or home security cameras when a crime happens, police are able to instantly pull up footage with high quality images. Because criminals know there is a network of cameras throughout the city, it makes the community a less attractive target to criminals. It sends the message “if you commit a crime in the City of Painesville, you will be caught and held accountable.”
  • Assists in Accountability
While criminals are held accountable for their actions on camera, so are officers. The network of city-wide cameras offers transparency and oversight of officers on the scene. The Painesville Police Department holds its officers to a high level of integrity and professionalism. Video footage allows leadership and external sources to review incidents and confirm officer actions.
  • Provides Evidence, Helps Gather Clues & Provides Solid Leads
Perhaps the most useful benefit of a city-wide camera system, is that video footage provides instant descriptions of vehicles and suspects that can be communicated in real-time to other area law enforcement or even the public. Upon review, video footage capturing a crime can also be used in a court of law as evidence against the accused. It can place a suspect in an area when a crime occurred and or show where the suspect went after the crime. Likewise, it can be used to prove someone’s innocence by confirming or disproving victim or suspect statements. The cameras are used daily by officers and have been integral in solving several major cases already.

Looking Ahead

Painesville Police are currently in discussions with camera contractor, Technology Install Partners, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Central Communications to enable access to dispatchers so 911 operators can see events live while still on the phone with a victim or bystander. “We [Painesville Police] feel that this function and ability makes sense and needs to be a priority for the department,” said Lt. Burgett.
“We also hope to continue to add to our camera system so that all intersections are covered because all our residents benefit from this system,” said Lt. Burgett. “I would also personally like to acknowledge and thank the unwavering support of our City Council. Without their advocacy, this initiative would not have come to fruition. We take the use of taxpayers’ dollars very seriously and our goal is and should always be their safety.”