Philadelphia Unveils Monitoring Station for City's Video Surveillance System

Part of Operation Safer Streets, Philadelphia will install 250 video cameras.

by / January 2, 2008

Mayor John F. Street and the Philadelphia Police Department unveiled the monitoring station for the city's new video surveillance camera system at a press conference at Police Headquarters in late December.

"Deploying video cameras as part of our crime fighting strategy is a great example of using technology to improve public safety and to enhance the quality of services we deliver to our citizens," Street said. "These cameras can and will make a difference in our neighborhoods."

As part of Operation Safer Streets, the Street Administration's initiative to reduce and prevent violence, the city contracted with Unisys Corporation to install 250 video surveillance cameras across the city. Currently 26 cameras are operational. All of the cameras will be installed and operating over the course of the next ten months. Monitoring of the cameras will be supervised by the Philadelphia Police Department.

The cost of installing the 250 cameras and of outfitting the video monitoring station at police headquarters is approximately $10 million.

Philadelphia installed 18 video surveillance cameras as part of an initial test program a year ago. According to police statistics, reported crimes at eight video locations with highly visible, unmonitored cameras decreased by 8.4 percent, and there was specifically a 37 percent decrease in violent crimes, most notably assaults and robberies.

In addition to deploying video cameras, the Street Administration is undertaking a host of other initiatives to reduce and prevent violence through Operation Safer Streets, including:

  • Hiring and deploying 200 more police
  • Deploying elite, experienced officers in targeted areas to reduce violence
  • Opening and operating 11 Neighborhood Curfew Centers to get young people off the streets and back home. The Curfew Centers program has been cited nationally as a best practice by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
  • Spending $3 million to hire 400 Parent Truant Officers to reduce truancy.
  • Training 1,400 neighborhood and faith-based leaders in conflict resolution techniques to help people constructively resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
  • Training 147,000 children in public schools in conflict resolution.
  • Funding and supporting proven youth violence prevention programs, including the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership (YVRP) and the Adolescent Violence Reduction Partnership (AVRP).
  • Opening one-stop shops to provide counseling to ex-offenders and helping them re-enter communities.
  • Working with other Pennsylvania mayors and with Governor Rendell to persuade the PA General Assembly to enact stronger handgun laws for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.