Phila. surveillance cameras on the blink
PHILADELPHIA - June 20, 2012 (WPVI) -- There has been much made of Philadelphia's program to install crime-fighting surveillance cameras throughout the city over the last five years.
But a report by the city controller has yielded the discouraging fact that half the cameras don't work.
Above the intersection of Broad and Cecil B Moore is one of Philadelphia's 216 Police Surveillance Cameras designed to send images to police headquarters.
The city won't say if this camera is working or not leaving passersby to wonder.
"I'm not sure how well they work. There is still a lot of crime, but there would probably be more if they weren't there," said Trishna Govil.
So how reliable is the Philadelphia system? The City Controller's office put out a scathing report Wednesday saying when it checked last February fewer than half, just 47% of the cameras were actually working.
"That means at any given time when crime is occurring, only 47% of the cameras are able to capture criminal activity," said City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
Butkovitz says despite spending $14 million, the five year old system has been beset with troubles.
Many of its wireless links and cameras have had to be replaced with new updated gear and cables. He says the money would have been better spent hiring cops.
"They would be better off with physical police officer than a camera that has a 50% chance of being an empty box," Butkovitz said.
The Nutter Administration pushed back by saying the Controller's 47% number is no longer accurate.
"I can tell you today that 70%, 67% of cameras are up and working today," said Everett Gillison.
Chief of Staff Everett Gillison concedes much of the original $14 million plan had to be scrapped and upgraded, but denies that means there was a waste of the tax payers' money.
"No, I would say not," said Gillison. "I think the bottom line has been the contract that was initially entered in to design a system. We had to redesign the system."
Gillison says 2012 will be the year the system will finally succeed predicting 90% of its cameras will be working by September 1st.
philadelphia, caught on camera, local/state, john rawlins
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