Surveillance Camera Results Eye catching Allentown, PA
The Allentown Police Department is getting a big assist from its eyes in the sky. At a morning news conference Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced that information gleaned from the City of Allentown’s surveillance cameras has resulted in at least 29 apprehensions in 18 months and has generated nearly 2000 officer dispatches since January 2008.
The city began with 12 cameras on Hamilton Street in October 2007. The system has now grown to 65 city cameras plus eight cameras viewable from PennDOT.
“The cameras have been invaluable,” said Pawlowski. “You can see the results. They have been used to identify crimes in progress and they have been used to solve crimes. Additionally they have deterred criminals who know they have to go elsewhere to ply their trade.”
The cameras are monitored by trained dispatchers at the city’s 911 Communications Center. Images from the cameras are recorded at the monitoring station. The video is archived for investigative assistance. The cameras can pan, tilt and zoom-in to keep an eye on suspicious activity. They are mounted on buildings, traffic signal arms, utility poles and city-owned street lights.
The Sony cameras, wireless radios and monitoring system were installed by Communication Systems, Inc. of Allentown. Current plans call for more than 100 cameras to be installed across the city. Not all camera locations will be disclosed.
The cameras are another piece of the city’s overall crime prevention strategy. Pawlowski said, “We are steadily rebuilding the ranks of the department that has seen 73 retirements since the end of 2005. The city currently has 200 officers. We will have new recruits attending the police academy this summer as we work to bring us closer to our authorized compliment of 209 officers. It will continue to be our policy to give our citizens our maximum investigative and enforcement effort.”
“The cameras have been the source of very beneficial information,” said Allentown Police Chief Roger MacLean. “We have made a number of felony arrests as a result of pictures picked-up by the cameras. They are of value to us every single day.”
To date, $1.6 million has been spent on the cameras, including $800,000 in state and federal grant monies, $400,000 in city capital funds and $400,000 in funds from third party partners. The city has also received in-kind contributions from the Allentown School District and Service Electric.