Northern Pa. City Delighted by Surveillance Camera System
In Bradford, Pa., a video surveillance system now in place nearly three years and paid for by donations is reaping huge benefits, police say.
BRADFORD, Pa. – Police and city officials here are praising the positive results that video surveillance cameras are having in providing valuable evidence for crimes that take place in the downtown area.
The security cameras were installed nearly three years ago, and police say the footage continues to play a critical role in solving many cases, according to The Bradford Era.
Video evidence from the cameras was used to track down two burglary suspects and reveal the identity of an intoxicated flower pot-tipper on Main Street. Mayor Tom Riel told the newspaper the security cameras “do work, they do pay off” and are “a valuable tool” in fighting crime in the city, located close to the border with New York and less than 80 miles south of Buffalo.
On June 26, police received a report of a stolen handgun, among other items, from a motor vehicle parked next to The Carpet Store on East Washington Street. Utilizing the store security system, police were able to match up a time to check the city’s high-resolution security cameras, Assistant Police Chief Mike Ward told the newspaper.
“Using that system we were able to put out video to the public of the suspects involved in the vehicle theft,” he said. “With help from community tips, the footage led us to identify those individuals.”
Ward noted security camera footage was also used recently to reveal the identity of an intoxicated man who, on June 25, walked the entirety of Main Street tipping over flower pots and causing other damage as he went.
“It was general criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, but the cameras were able to observe the individual and follow his path,” Ward said. “Because of the high quality of the camera system, we were able to identify him and charge him accordingly.”
The cameras have also proven invaluable in reconstructing the circumstances of traffic accidents in their vicinity. For example, on a recent morning, video evidence from one of the security cameras helped Ward discern who the “at-fault party” was in a two-vehicle crash at a downtown intersection.
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“The cameras become extremely helpful when two drivers dispute each other’s claims as to who was the at-fault party,” Ward told the newspaper. “They provide an accurate determination of the circumstances of those crashes, and that has been an asset to us – being able to come back to the station and have a record on the system.”
Ward reminds the public that police do not randomly observe the camera footage, but rather queue up the relevant portions when it is useful for a case.
“Right from the get-go when this system was put in, we were solving fairly major crimes and minor crimes with the cameras,” he said. “It has come to the point that we utilize this system daily.”
Ward also emphasized the cameras act as a “great deterrent.”
A total of 39 cameras were installed throughout the downtown business district at the end of the summer 2013. Another 16 cameras were later installed in a revitalization area using $34,784 in Neighborhood Partnership Project funds, according to the newspaper.
The project of installing the cameras came about through donations; the system was not purchased using city tax dollars, the newspaper reported.
“More than 20 people donated to purchase them, and it turned out to be a good investment from the donors to make our downtown safer,” Riel said. “There’s no question they’ve acted as a deterrent for vandalism downtown, there has been very little since we put them up.”
The expansion of the surveillance system came at a lower cost because the city was able to use wireless technology to tie them back into the fiber optic system on Main Street, according to police.
The footage is recorded at the Bradford City Police station, but isn’t monitored unless an incident takes place that calls for police review. Footage from the cameras is only retained for 30 days.
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