Harrisburg Mulls Surveillance Camera Installation In High Crime Areas

Mayor Linda Thompson stated one of her goals for 2011 is to have surveillance cameras installed throughout the city.  Public grants can be used to fund this project.

South Allison Hill and parts of Uptown and Downtown Harrisburg are being targeted as the most likely places to have cameras installed.  These areas experience high crime and surveillance cameras would act as a deterrent as well as provide police with evidence.

Wilkes-Barre has installed 230 cameras in various sites around the city.  They used $3 million in state funds from the Department of Community and Economic Development.  In Wilkes-Barre’s case, the cameras have not been a deterrent; however, the footage has helped police solve more crimes.  Wilkes-Barre has only experienced very minor equipment malfunctions.  Police officers rotate on camera duty.  The footage is monitored 24/7!

Larger Scranton has only installed 12 cameras (obviously not nearly enough).  The say the cameras malfunction often and are down sometimes for two weeks at a time.  Scranton obtained a grant for $200,000 to pay for their project.  Unlike Wilkes-Barre, the camera monitor is put behind the front desk.  The officer on duty is constantly being distracted with other work so footage is only monitored “as time permits”.  (See Wilkes-Barre model, Scranton PD)

And then there is progressive Lancaster!  Lancaster has had cameras installed since early in the last decade.  There are 165 cameras monitored by the Safety Coalition.  The Safety Coalition is a nonprofit volunteer organization.

During a six-month period is 2009, surveillance footage assisted in 51 arrests.  Police requested footage for 166 cases.  The Lancaster police love cameras!  Public and private grants fund the camera system.  Delegations from Baltimore, New York and Warren, OH have paid a visit to Lancaster to learn how their system works.  An interesting story is told of a man who was found dead on a sidewalk in Lancaster.  Police reviewed the surveillance footage and watched the man trip and fall.  He was not the victim of a crime.  Think of the cost savings to city residents by not having detectives investigate a simple slip and fall as a possible homicide!!

Carlisle is spending $270,000 in federal grants to install 15 cameras in their downtown area.

Harrisburg does have “some” surveillance cameras already in place.  Harrisburg Police and the Dauphin County District Attorney feel more cameras would be helpful.  Residents of Allison Hill and Uptown reacted favorably to surveillance cameras hoping they will reduce crime in the neighborhood.  Neighbors said the idea makes them feel safer and more protected.

We think these cameras are a great idea.  Personally, I would love to see them in Pottstown!  Remember, grants can pay for these projects.  No taxpayer cost involved.

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