As hundreds of thousands of people flock downtown this weekend to stroll through booths and listen to music at the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, one thing is certain: A lot of eyes will be watching.
Authorities are using an array of surveillance technology to help ensure safety and security at the big event, monitoring the crowds for anything out of the ordinary. It's no different, city officials say, than what takes place at Mayfest, Texas Motor Speedway or Cowboys Stadium.
"I think the expectation is to have a safe environment," said Maj. Paul Henderson of the Fort Worth Police Department. "However that occurs, as long as it's not an infringement on their civil rights, people want to be safe."
Surveillance technology -- whether it's cameras in Fort Worth, license plate readers in Dallas or drones in Arlington -- has boomed in the post-9-11 era.
Fort Worth alone has spent about $2 million on camera-related projects in five years and has received more than $30 million in federal and state Homeland Security grants since 2005.
The city has 469 cameras controlled by the city marshal's office and 13 downtown traffic cameras overseen by the Transportation and Public Works Department, which also has six cameras at railroad crossings elsewhere in the city. About 20 other cameras are controlled by the Water Department.
These figures do not include Fort Worth police cameras, which Henderson declined to discuss but range from portable cameras to sprinkler-head cameras.
Police are willing to talk about a pilot program in which seven officers are wearing body cameras. Once the voluntary program is ready to go, the department will have 50 body cams for patrol officers. Henderson said police "anticipate a huge savings on the reduction of complaints against officers."
In the next year or two, the city could be tapping into far more cameras outside its own network, linking with hospitals, universities or public gathering places. Connecting to private companies' security systems is probably at least five years off.