New eyes in the sky in Camden

July 11, 2011 3:24:11 PM PDT
Camden's mayor and police chief showed off their new state of the art closed circuit television system, monitoring more than 50 key locations around town, on Monday.

Their new "Eye in the Sky" camera policing program is now up and running in full.

One example, 27th and Federal streets in east Camden is now being monitored 24/7 by Camden's police at headquarters via the technology and also from patrol cars, as well.

Many of the local residents Action News spoke with were not even aware of the new police surveillance cameras strategically mounted on light polls all over the town.

The Washington politicians who raised the federal money to install the cameras were in town to take their bows and promise that 30 more cameras are on the way.

Camden is financially strapped. At one point, half the 450 member police force was laid off, though, 74 cops have been reinstated through federal grants.

"It is like having a cop on the beat in 50 locations, all reporting back continuously to the command center," Senator Robert Menendez said.

Can these cameras have a serious impact on crime in Camden? The police chief says, 'yes.'

"This will never replace a police officer, but what it can do is allow us to be smarter, be faster, and broaden our scope of coverage," Chief John Scott Thompson said.

Camden's police force is still down about 33% from its peak before the mass layoffs this winter. The city's crime rate is up 13% over this time last year.

The hope and prayer is that this new camera technology will help compensate for the lack of cops on the streets in this city.