Big changes are coming for the LSC! We are starting the process to create a capital campaign to allow us to upgrade the aging camera system. While our current ten year old system is still working surprisingly well for its age we need to start making upgrades and replacements. Below are recent articles from Lancaster Newspapers about some of the coming changes. We will release more information as it becomes available.
LINDSEY BLEST | Staff Writer
Jul 10, 2019
A Lancaster Safety Coalition video placed accused shooter Wilberto Melendez at the scene of the homicide.
The camera also captured William Earl Cooper Jr. lying on the South Marshall Street sidewalk after being shot Oct. 27, 2017.
The camera missed the moments when someone fired at the 31-year-old man.
If it had not, the progression of the case could have been quite different.
David Greiner, the coalition’s director of monitoring and evidence, testified at Melendez’s trial in May to how the cameras make 3½- to 4-minute “tours” around and down the roads at an intersection.
Greiner also mentioned the coalition’s hope to get better cameras that would capture more of a scene. The trial ended in a mistrial for a reason unrelated to the surveillance.
On Tuesday, coalition Executive Director Tim Miller said in a phone interview the organization soon will release information on a plan to replace its 170 pan, tilt and zoom cameras with 360-degree models.
“If you have a single camera lens moving around all the time, you are going to miss some things. We are helpful in police cases, but we are not able to provide a full story of what happened,” Miller said.
The coalition, which earned its nonprofit status in 2005, is not affiliated with municipal or law enforcement parties. The organization relies on donations to maintain and operate the camera system.
The cameras have been heralded by Lancaster city leaders and law enforcement as helpful tools in preventing and solving crimes.
“The Lancaster Safety Coalition cameras have proven themselves to be very valuable as it relates to criminal investigations,” said Jess King, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace’s chief of staff, in an email. “Residents and police alike have come to rely on them to solve crimes.”
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said the news was “very encouraging.”
“A 360-degree lens would greatly expand the value and provide additional evidence in even more cases,” Stedman said in an email.
From Jan. 1 to July 8, the coalition was able to find and provide video for 414 of 676 requests made by law enforcement, according to Jessica Falk, director of operations.
680 views of Lancaster
The new cameras would include four lenses, simultaneously capturing the full, surrounding scene.
Multiply the 170 camera locations by four lenses per camera, and that’s 680 views of Lancaster city at once, Miller said.
Miller said a few of the new cameras have been set up for testing, including one at Lemon and Charlotte streets and one at Lime and Walnut streets.
The plans are still being developed, and more information — including cost — will be released soon, Miller said.
The fundraising effort is likely to be costly. Installation of the 165 camera set up through 2009 cost nearly $3 million, according to LNP records. The project was funded by hundreds of public and private donors.
San Francisco in May became the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by police and other departments.
Lancaster city does not have such a ban, but the nonprofit that runs its 170 surveillance cameras says they don’t use the technology.
“As a 501(c)3, it’s incredibly important for us to preserve the public’s trust,” Executive Director Tim Miller said.
For an extra cost, the coalition could add facial recognition technology to their software.
But the board has determined “for many years” that it would not use the technology and has stuck with it, Miller said.
Other cities have been grappling with facial recognition issues.
Sommerville, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb, followed San Francisco’s move earlier this month.
In Detroit, a public outcry is ongoing against the technology in thousands of cameras around the city, according to a Monday report from the New York Times.
On Tuesday, the Worcester, Mass.-based nonprofit Fight for the Future launched what it calls the first national campaign calling for a federal prohibition on all uses of facial recognition technology by governments.
Copyright © 2019 LNP Media Group
TIM STUHLDREHER | Staff Writer
Aug 1, 2019
The Lancaster Safety Coalition announced Wednesday it plans to replace about 20% of its security cameras overlooking Lancaster city streets this summer and fall with high-definition, 360-degree state-of-the-art upgrades.
“These are pretty much the best cameras you can get,” Executive Director Tim Miller said.
Starting this month, the coalition plans to take down 35 of its 170 existing cameras and replace them with the new ones.
The project includes upgrades to the servers and the rest of the system to accommodate the cameras’ higher data throughput and enhanced capabilities. The total cost will be a little under $250,000, Miller said.
The coalition characterizes the initiative as a “pilot project.” Putting the new cameras in place will give the organization a chance to see how they work and assess the costs and benefits, so it can develop a plan to upgrade its whole network and the supporting technology.
“The fact is, the entirety of our system does need to be replaced,” Miller said.
The plan is expected to include a fundraising component — those details remain to be worked out, he said.
The coalition is a nonprofit supported by donations and is not affiliated with the city, police or court system.
The cameras have been used to provide “video evidence and real-time information on public safety incidents” since 2006, the organization says.
District Attorney Craig Stedman said the existing cameras “have assisted in numerous investigations, including many major crimes” and that the upgrade “would greatly expand the value.”
LNP initially reported the coalition’s interest in deploying 360-degree cameras last month. A couple had already been installed for test purposes, Miller said at the time.
Copyright © 2019 LNP Media Group