Police State Pennsylvania! You We're Told it Was Coming... 24/7 Surveillance Of 5 Cities!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 09/03/2008 - 8:52pm.

Allegheny County is planning to keep an electronic eye out for you.County Emergency Services Chief Bob Full said Friday that $750,000 in a pending federal appropriations bill would help pay for as many as 40 remote-controlled cameras to watch for crimes and monitor emergencies.

"We want to keep (criminals) guessing, but we want them to also know that we are watching them in critical areas," he said.

Cameras could be moved as needed and would be monitored and controlled from the department's Point Breeze headquarters, Full said. Images could be relayed to police officers responding to an incident and shown on their in-car computers, he said.

The planned system will include 64 cameras the county already has, as well as 64 sensors that sniff the air for traces of chemicals and radioactive materials.

The closed-circuit wireless surveillance network could include microphones that detect the sound of a gunshot and alert dispatchers, said Sen. Arlen Specter. He said images caught by cameras would be an aid in prosecuting crimes.

"A picture is worth a thousand lawyers," Specter said.

In all, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved more than $2 million for police surveillance in Pennsylvania. Besides the county money, the funding bill includes $250,000 to put 53 cameras in Pittsburgh, and similar projects for cameras in Allentown, Williamsport and York.

The bill must pass the full Senate and be signed into law before any money is available. The county has budgeted $250,000 for the project, Full said, and he is seeking additional money to expand the system's capabilities.

Philadelphia is building a $10 million surveillance network with 250 cameras that the city hopes to have operating by the end of the year.

A 2006 pilot project there led to a 13 percent reduction in crime overall in the areas under surveillance, according to a Temple University study.

The cameras work best when everyone knows they are being watched, said the study's author, Jerry Ratcliffe.

"If you make (criminals) move to another location, it's often a worse location for committing crime, so that's a good thing," Ratcliffe said.

Full said the planned surveillance system, to be built by August Systems of Morgantown, W.Va., eventually could include security cameras owned by universities, PennDOT and private companies.

"It is scalable, and it can grow. And this is what we need to do in the future: We need to use technology as our best defense," Full said.

September 3, 2008 - source Pittsburgh Tribune Review

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 09/03/2008 - 8:52pm.