Iowa City to install cameras in Pedestrian Mall

The City of Iowa City is installing the first city-owned cameras throughout the Pedestrian Mall in an effort to increase surveillance in the area.


Emily Nyberg

The Iowa City Pedestrian Mall is seen on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

Hannah Lipski, News Reporter

The City of Iowa City is revamping security in the downtown’s Pedestrian Mall.

Thirteen cameras will be installed throughout the area, and the underground conduits for the new cameras are already  being installed as part of the 2018-19 Pedestrian Mall Improvements Project.

The estimated cost for the project is $95,000, and the goal is to have the cameras installed by summer.

Installation of the cameras comes following a Jan. 14 shooting in the mall in which multiple shots were fired in the area. The city has also recently implemented other safety measures, including installing a new light canopy in the mall.

Lee Hermiston, Iowa City public safety information officer, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the new cameras will capture a greater degree of the Pedestrian Mall than what is currently available.

“In some cases, officers and investigators will have access to 360-degree coverage, which will be critical in instances such as a missing child or a fleeing subject as our officers will be able to use that footage to more accurately track their movements through the Ped Mall when investigating the incident,” he wrote.

Hermiston wrote that when crimes occur, the police department has to rely on private businesses to provide their camera footage, and the privately-owned cameras have been “an indispensable resource” for the police department for years. The new city-owned cameras will help make arrests, convictions, and serve as concrete evidence in front of a jury, he wrote.

RELATED: IC police respond to shots fired in Pedestrian Mall

Maggy Moran, the general manager of Revival, said she had a positive reaction about the idea of cameras installation in the Ped Mall.

“I think it makes everyone safer,” Moran said. “It makes it easier for everybody to do their job, and it just should give people a little bit of extra piece of mind.”

Moran said Revival and Roxxy Bar currently only have cameras inside of the establishment.

Zachary Ennis, general manager of Roxxy, said the bar previously experienced unexpected violence outside of the establishment.

“We’re also in the thick of it here in the Ped Mall, so we will probably be one of the first bars to experience anything that happens,” he said.

Ennis also said he is glad Iowa City installing cameras because it could help reduce violence in the area.

“I think it could only deter people from using the Ped Mall for this sort of interaction. If there were knowledge of cameras in the Ped Mall, maybe this sort of thing wouldn’t happen so much here anymore,” he said.

Additionally, the establishment managers said they are subscribed to Hawk Alerts as their main way of being notified of criminal or suspicious activity in the Iowa City area.

As the city moves forward in the implementation of the cameras, Hermiston wrote that the Iowa city Police Department hopes that the cameras will deter those considering breaking the law on the Ped Mall.

“We want to emphasize that these cameras will not be used to actively monitor Pedestrian Mall visitors and patrons unless we are in the midst of a critical incident. In the vast majority of time footage is accessed, it will be after the fact,” he wrote.