CANTON -- As football fans stream into Canton to enjoy this weekend's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction festivities, the city will also be watching them.
Twenty new cameras came online Friday afternoon to monitor crowds along the entire Cleveland Avenue route for Saturday's Hall of Fame parade.
The cameras will be monitored around the clock this weekend from a nearby emergency operations center by representatives of the Canton Police, Stark County Sheriffs Office, Ohio Highway Patrol and Canton Fire Department.
Canton Police Chief Bruce Lauver says the cameras are meant to help authorities look for misbehavior in the crowd, but he also hopes they make honest people who come to enjoy the festivities feel safer.
"That's what we are hoping and that's what I am getting from the general consensus from the feedback I'm getting from the public, that it is a real safety feature and people do feel more secure," said Lauver.
Patrick Barton, Canton's Information Technology Director, was instrumental in getting the cameras installed through a contract with Buckeye Protective Services, which actually owns and services the cameras.
"Obviously, these cameras will not replace officers or safety forces on the ground and we are not trying to do that. Essentially, what we are saying is that by using technology, like the chief said, it is a force multiplier and I think it changes the perception a little bit for the city. It shows that we are being proactive.
Barton says the bombings at the Boston Marathon helped make the decision easier since having so many cameras in the area made it clear that anyone intending to do something wrong would almost certainly be caught.
"Not to make light of what happened in Boston, but what happened there, it, I think, it raised the awareness of just how valuable these cameras are," said Barton.
Along the parade route, football fans started camping out on Friday for Saturday's parade.
Many say it doesn't bother them that the city is watching them at all times.
"I understand why they want more security, because this is a big event and I'm going to have a lot of my kids. They are going to keep coming as the night goes on and so I don't mind the idea that there's somebody watching," said North Canton resident, Brenda Newport, who says it doesn't matter to her, because she won't be doing anything wrong.
Some others say it makes them nervous.
"It's just creepy. I know I'm being watched all the time by big brother, but it's really creepy to even camp out without being stared down," said Hanah Scarpino.
Ten additional cameras are already in place around the Canton Civic Center.
After this weekend's activities, the city will assess where and how the cameras can be best used elsewhere around Canton.
Also, starting with this weekend's Hall of Fame game on Sunday, new rules will be enforced about what can and cannot come into NFL stadiums.
Backpacks, purses and fanny packs will not be allowed inside NFL stadiums this season. Anything carried in will have to be in a clear plastic bag, about the size of a one gallon kitchen bag.
Football fans at the Hall of Fame on Friday also had mixed reaction to the rule.
"I probably would carry a purse or something, but I think it's fine that they are not allowing those things in. I think safety is first, so I'd rather feel safe," said Wanda Smith of New Jersey.
"I have a problem with that," said Kira Bradley, of Atlanta, who says it seems like an invasion of privacy. "I have important things in my purse. The clear bag, I'm not sure if I like that idea."