CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – The 44th annual Sturgis Falls celebration is just two days away. The event draws thousands of people to Cedar Falls every year.
Jay Stoddard is the president of Sturgis Falls. He said they’ve used surveillance cameras at the celebration since the early 2000s. Last summer, they used them for the first time at Gateway Park to curb vandalism and bad behavior. The cameras were installed near the parking area, beer tents and office buildings.
This year, Stoddard said they will use 11 security cameras at Gateway Park. A local tech company donated them. They will be taken down once the festival is over.
The cameras operate on a WiFi network, allowing Sturgis Falls organizers and Cedar Falls police officers to monitor the real-time video on their phones and tablets.
Each day, there will be 20 to 25 officers patrolling the park and mingling with the crowd, according to Cedar Falls Captain Mike Hayes. Then, back at the police station, there will be additional officers watching the cameras.
“[The officers back at the station] can radio us and tell us, ‘Hey there’s maybe a crowd here and it’s looking like it could turn into a fight or something.’ So, we can send the officers over into that area so that helps a lot,” Captain Hayes explained.
Organizers said they plan to use the added surveillance to manage big crowds and lines.
“If you’re wondering if there’s somebody’s on a radio, telling you, ‘Hey, we gotta problem in here.’ Or, ‘We ran out of beer here. We need more beer cups over here.’ You can immediately go to the camera, see what’s going on,” Stoddard said.
Captain Hayes admitted the crowds are tame at the celebration, but the added security measure may make people feel safer. He also said the city uses other security cameras on Main Street and on College Hill. While those operate all year long, the department plans to closely monitor them this weekend.