The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 30, 2013

Surveillance cameras still not up in Sunbury

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Nearly four years after receiving $200,000 in grant money for surveillance cameras and more than six months after they were purchased, not a single camera hangs in the city.

And Sunbury Councilman Jim Eister understands that residents are getting frustrated.

“Of course,” he said. “People want to know what’s going on.”

Eister said the original plans were to install the cameras “in house,” but that fell through when project coordinator and city Councilman Todd Snyder became unavailable because of his work schedule.

“You can’t quit a job,” Eister said. “So now we have to get an outside source to start to hang these.”

“We are looking at what those costs will be right now,” he added.

The grant, secured by former U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, D-10 of Dimock, provided for the use of 200 cameras. Fifty of those were supposed to be stationary cameras and were to be online by Jan. 1, Snyder originally said.

Sunbury was also supposed to be using 12 mobile cameras for surveillance.

Eister believes the city needs to move forward.

“We purchased top-of-the-line equipment,” he said. “We will be getting these up very soon.”

The entire $200,000 was spent and the city has the capability to link 300 cameras on a network for police to monitor.

Councilman Kevin Troup is also aware the city has been receiving questions about when the cameras will be hung.

“They need to be up and running,” Troup said. “We are in the process of getting this situated, and we will have these up very soon.”

Various crimes are being solved thanks to surveillance systems being used by city businesses.

About two weeks ago, Sunbury police captured an alleged copper thief after Dempsey Uniform and Linen Supply released a video of a man caught on film scouting the business.

Sunbury police released the video to various Valley news agencies, and within a few hours the man was identified and police were able to make a arrest.

The role of video surveillance drew national attention as the FBI used not only law enforcement but private security cameras, as well as smartphone images provided by hundreds of people, to identify the suspected Boston Marathon bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Sunbury Mayor David Persing said he is well aware the cameras need to be disbursed throughout the city.

“There is no question they need to be up,” Persing said. “When we were informed that Councilman Snyder was going to be away for his job, we had already met with many individuals on where the cameras were going to be. We are now looking at a third party to come out and install these. We got a lot of cameras for the money we spent and it’s time to get these up.”

Persing said the cameras will start appearing in the next few weeks.

Timeline of events regarding security cameras in Sunbury:

Jan 10, 2013: City officials begin assembling cameras for installation.

Nov. 19, 2012: City Council says 50 cameras will be online by first of year.

Sept. 10: 2012: City Council says 25 cameras will be online by first of year.

June 1, 2011: City Council looks to two agencies for suggestions on camera locations

April 27, 2011: Phase I of the project approved; three best locations for cameras are Memorial Acres, Shikellamy High School and Persing Sports Complex

May 21, 2010: Federal money still mired in red tape as cameras have yet to clear federal screening

Dec. 18, 2009: City of Sunbury is awarded a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.