Controller: Problems persist with Philly police surveillance cameras

surveillance camera philadelphia
Up to 68 percent of city surveillance cameras may not be fully functional, according to the City Controller’s Office. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Philadelphia’s embattled surveillance system is still ailing, with only 32 percent of cameras sampled fully functioning, according to a follow-up audit released Wednesday by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

The announcement came nearly one year after a controller’s office audit found that fewer than half of Philadelphia’s 216 cameras were working, and three months after the City Council held a hearing discussing best practices for surveillance camera funding and maintenance after touring Baltimore’s state-of-the-art system.

Following the 2011 audit, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison claimed 70 percent of city surveillance cameras were functioning after the city again outsourced maintenance and oversight last March.

The city further projected 90 percent of cameras would be working by September 2012.

Philadelphia did not meet its goals, according to the controller’s office.

“It is discouraging to report that only 32 percent of the sample cameras from around the city were functioning properly,” Butkovitz said Wednesday.

“This means that at any given time when crime is occurring around our city, only a third of the cameras are able to capture criminal activity.”

The controller’s office in the follow-up audit reviewed the performance of 31 randomly sampled cameras installed around the city.

Staffers found video footage captured by the non-fully functioning cameras was impeded by condensation in camera domes and lenses, had pixelated edges when cameras attempted to capture movement, or showed no image at all but merely a pink screen.

Visibility was also compromised by objects like traffic lights and trees, according to Butkovitz.

Auditors with the controller’s office joined council members for their January trip to Baltimore, where they toured the city’s surveillance system in which 97 percent of cameras are functioning at all times.

Baltimore has 7.5 times more cameras per citizen than Philadelphia despite the fact that the city has nearly 900,000 fewer residents, Butkovitz pointed out.

He further noted Baltimore operates its cameras using retired police officers, as well as two full-time technology staffers, while Philadelphia uses active police officers and has no full-time or on-call surveillance camera employees at all.

Baltimore also has a scheduled preventative maintenance plan and conducts daily camera cleanings, making necessary repairs within 24 hours, while Philadelphia has no such maintenance program and takes up to five weeks to address repairs.

“With crime occurring every day in our city, Philadelphia needs to adopt necessary measures for its surveillance cameras to function properly,” Butkovitz said.

Butkovitz recommended that Philadelphia adopt measures similar to those employed by Baltimore, ensuring surveillance cameras are regularly maintained and dedicating at least one Office of Innovation and Technology employee to manage the surveillance program full time.

“Without taking action to improve our camera system, these cameras will continue to fail our police officers in solving crimes,” Butkovitz said.

“More importantly, they will continue to fail at providing safety for Philadelphians.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.