By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — Police on Chicago’s far South Side say holes in their video surveillance grid have made it harder to solve some crimes. Now the 19th Ward, which includes all of Beverly and Mount Greenwood and parts of Morgan Park, is getting an influx of police cameras and license plate readers.

But do police surveillance cameras actually reduce crime?

READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Mainly Clear And Not As Cold Sunday Night

The Chicago Police Department already has about 4,000 cameras in its network, and they have the ability to access over 33,000 cameras owned by the city and some private owners.

They have been used to solve crimes, but CBS 2 wanted to know: Can they also prevent it?

The Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods have seen their fair share of crime this year.

In December a retired Chicago firefighter was shot and killed during an attempted carjacking in front of a popcorn shop in Morgan Park. Surveillance video led to several arrests.

But police say so far there have been no arrests in the mass shooting at a Morgan Park pancake house in August that left one person dead and four people wounded. That’s, in part, because a gap in the city’s network of POD cameras meant there was no video of the actual shooting itself. Police tried to gather private security footage, but the case remains wide open.

READ MORE: At Least 20 Shot, 2 Killed In Weekend Violence In Chicago

“I don’t want police officer from the 22nd district spending hours knocking on doors trying to find video footage,” said Cmdr. Sean Joyce of the 22nd Chicago Police District.

Friday police and the ward’s alderman announced the addition of at least 12 new surveillance cameras to help combat a slight uptick so far this year in homicides, carjackings and non-fatal shootings in the 19th Ward compared to 2020.

But the connection between video surveillance and preventing crime is not always clear. In 2019, the CBS2 Investigators dug into how serious crime had doubled on Chicago’s ‘L’ system, despite the CTA adding thousands of security cameras And criminologists say that the studies that look at the impact on preventing crime have been mixed. Some studies show a significant reduction while others do not.

But recent events show that the crime solving capabilities — after the crime has been committed — are invaluable.

Two of the new cameras going into the 19th Ward are already up and running. They hope to have the others in place sometime this year.

Friday the ACLU said the evidence does not suggest additional surveillance cameras lead to a reduction in crime. They’re asking the City Council to halt any further expansion of the system until the City Council can hold a hearing on the way surveillance cameras are used.

MORE NEWS: Boy, 11, Shot And Wounded In West Pullman; He Is Second Child Shot In Area Within Week

Also From CBS Chicago:

Megan Hickey