Civic News

Only 102 of the City of Philadelphia’s 216 security cameras work, says City Controller

Updated 6/21/2012 9:48 a.m. The Philadelphia Daily News reported today on the Nutter administration’s response to the audit. Since 2006, the city has spent $13.9 million on video surveillance cameras to deter crime but less than half of them work, according to an audit released yesterday by City Controller Alan Butkovitz. With only 102 of […]

Alan Butkovitz. Photo by Rikard Larma/Metro

Photo by Rikard Larma/Metro

Updated 6/21/2012 9:48 a.m. The Philadelphia Daily News reported today on the Nutter administration’s response to the audit.

Since 2006, the city has spent $13.9 million on video surveillance cameras to deter crime but less than half of them work, according to an audit released yesterday by City Controller Alan Butkovitz. With only 102 of the city’s 216 cameras doing their job, Butkovitz calculates that the city is paying $136,000 per functioning camera.

In February, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky reported on the same problem, quoting frustrated police officers who have had to deal with the dysfunctional cameras.

“That system has been a white elephant from day one,” snorts a veteran detective. “The cameras are so high up, they can’t focus on faces. At night, all you see are dark images that don’t help in identification.” [more]

Butkovitz says his audit also found that the city’s Office of Innovation and Technology, responsible for maintaining the cameras, lacked “warranty information and maintenance records” for the equipment. Read the audit here.

It’s worth noting that for more than a year now, the Philadelphia Police Department has been growing a database of private security cameras whose owners readily allow them to be used by law enforcement.

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