Council pledges $3.6M for rec center security cameras

June 12, 2013 2:50:05 PM PDT
Only a handful of Philadelphia's recreation centers are equipped with surveillance cameras, but that's about to change.

"These cameras are a deterrent. They help solves crimes," Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis said Wednesday.

Council members have pledged millions of dollars to buy what could be more than 1,000 new cameras for Philadelphia's rec centers and playgrounds.

In the past year, both a murder and a rape have been reported at rec centers.

"Those are the kind of incidents that say we need to have surveillance cameras, we need to be able to catch these folks who are doing these things," Councilwoman Cindy Bass said.

The council's money - $3.6-million to be exact - means all 140 city rec centers will get cameras in the next three years. Some centers already have them.

Because of shootings on nearby streets, the advisory committee at South Philadelphia's Vare Rec Center raised its own $18,000 for a 16 camera security system.

"Money very well spent. Because the incidents in and around the rec center have gone way down," Jim Helman of the advisory committee said.

"I think cameras are definitely a part of it because people know someone is watching," Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said.

But will someone be watching?

Two weeks ago, the City Controller blasted the city's 5-year-old crime camera system claiming 2/3rds of its cameras were not working.

Mayor Michael Nutter called that allegation wrong, saying only 15 percent of the cameras were not working.

Councilwomen Bass, the moving force behind the proposed rec center cameras, vowed to make sure the system was fully functional.

"It's important to make sure these monitors work, that these cameras and other devices actually are working. We're going to be on top of it. We are giving our word," Bass said.


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