West Palm Beach PD: Malfunctioning Surveillance System IT Dept.’s Responsibility

The city is at odds over which department is accountable for ongoing efficacy issues with municipal video surveillance cameras.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – One day after blaming a West Palm Beach Police detective for not capturing surveillance video fast enough from the city’s troubled camera system, spokesman Elliot Cohen told NBC affiliate WPTV he and the chief were “given different information regarding the status of the camera system.”

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Chief Bryan Kummerlen says the system has suffered from ongoing technical issues that have not been addressed by the city’s IT department over the years, according to WPTV.

“As a police department we don’t manage the camera system, the city’s IT manages the camera system. This is a camera system since 2007, so the cameras are 8-years-old. There hasn’t been much maintenance done. It is kind of an aging system that needs to be maintained and watched after,” Chief Kummerlen said.

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But Cohen said on Monday that all but two of the city’s 31 cameras were working.

Questions began to surface when a man was murdered in May near Dunbar Village, but video from a nearby police surveillance camera was never recovered.

Instead of blaming a malfunctioning system, Cohen said the police detective didn’t capture the video fast enough. Cohen said the system only saved video for 23 hours.

“The camera in Dunbar Village was working at the time the incident happened, it is just the detective didn’t check it before it was overwritten,” Cohen said.

But the police chief says Cohen is wrong. Chief Kummerlen says the video records for 23 days, not 23 hours.

But that’s when the system is functioning properly.

“What sense does it make to have a camera system with a 23-hour hold? It doesn’t make much sense,” Kummerlen said.

Kummerlen says they should all “do better” when it comes to the cameras, but he is concerned that the system is not being managed.

“No one is really managing the system the way they should be. That is an IT function. IT needs to manage the back end of our system,” the chief said.

The IT component of the issue comes as the city’s IT Department has 16 “critical” openings right now.

As of Monday, Kummerlen said it appeared most of the cameras were working at that point.

“We put a lot of money into this in the beginning and we haven’t followed through with it the way we should. That is important,”  Kummerlen said.

The city has plans to add even more cameras into the system, according to WPTV.

As for the difference in statements from Elliot Cohen and Chief Kummerlen, Cohen released this statement Tuesday:

“I’ve known Chief Kummerlen for a long time, and I know him to be fiercely dedicated to making sure our city is safe, and while we seem to have been given different information regarding the status of our camera system, I think we both agree that what’s important is to focus on what needs to be done moving forward to make the city as safe as possible.”

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