Chester Housing Authority gives William Penn Homes $200K security camera upgrade

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Chester updates cameras at public housing: Dann Cuellar reports on Action News at 11 p.m., March 13, 2018 (WPVI)

Chester Housing Authority recently completed a massive upgrade of its video surveillance system that now covers every inch of the property at notorious William Penn Homes.

The Authority said the $235K upgrade is in response to residents' requests to make surveillance cameras a priority.

"It's an investment that pays off in the long run," said CHA Executive Director Steven Fischer. "This is a one-time expenditure, but it allows us to make our small police force more effective without straining our budget to hire additional officers."

CHA's Housing Operations Director Norman Wise said residents of public housing have made it clear they want the coverage.

"Residents ask about having cameras installed every chance they get," Wise said. "Any time there's any kind of incident in the city the first thing they say is we need more police. The second thing they say is we need more cameras. People feel more comfortable when they feel there are more cameras around."

The cameras are in clear view mounted on flag poles.

It's not a secret; CHA wants everyone to know they're there.

There are already cameras at every CHA site, but the plan calls for enhancing that equipment and adding new cameras at all CHA properties similar to the William Penn Homes.

"The cameras can't stop a crime but they can help you determine who the perpetrators of a crime are," said CHA Police Chief Rodney O'Neill. "They protect property in the sense that if people see them or think they're on camera they may not commit a crime."

The money for the cameras came from the annual capital budget, which CHA gets from the federal government to make repairs and improvements to properties.

"We would rather have taken care of some other maintenance issues first, but the reality is our residents have made this a priority and we strongly consider their opinions in making these decisions," Fischer said.

Housing authorities' capital budget allotments have been steadily declining for several years and President Trump's proposed budget for next year calls for ending the capital budget altogether.

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