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Hagerstown City Council OKs purchase of 50 new police cameras

They will be purchased using $242,500 of a $900,000 Community Oriented Policing Services grant

December 21, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

Fifty new police cameras will help the Hagerstown Police Department continue to crack down on crime throughout the city.

The Hagerstown City Council Tuesday night approved the purchase of 50 fixed and mobile cameras for the department's crime prevention program.

The cameras will be purchased using $242,500 of a $900,000 Community Oriented Policing Services grant awarded to the city in late 2010, Capt. Mark Holtzman said.

Included in the purchase was support and service of the cameras through the end of calendar year 2012, according to city documents.

The city has already used the federal COPS grant, which specifically funds technology, for projects such as e-ticketing and moveable cameras for Neighborhoods 1st, Holtzman said.

However, the police crime-camera system was the city's major initiative under the grant, he said.

Along with the 50 cameras, the city will use the grant to purchase hardware and software to integrate its approximately 40 existing hard-wired cameras with the new 50 Internet-based cameras. The grant also funds wages for part-time civilian staff to monitor the video feeds, he said.

Holtzman said the city hopes to have the feeds monitored between 12-14 hours a day.

Among the benefits of the expanded camera network will be the ability of officers to access it from their patrol cars, he said.

City Police Chief Arthur Smith said the cameras will be used to build out the city's existing network of crime cameras.

In addition to expanding the network, Holtzman said a goal was to build "redundancy" into the system, so that if there was a failure in one camera, it would not take the system down with it.

"These are sort of little independent machines," he said of the new cameras.

Once the cameras arrive, the department will permanently install 40 of them throughout the city, while 10 will remain mobile for police to move around as needed, Smith said.

With the additional cameras, the system will expand outside of city center into areas like Locust Point, Cannon Avenue, Fairgrounds Park, Salem Avenue, the 500 and 600 blocks of West Washington Street, East Avenue and City Park, Holtzman said.

He hopes to put the software and hardware for the system out to bid and have a vendor chosen by the end of January for the council to approve, Holtzman said.

The goal is to have the new system fully integrated with the existing cameras no later than the summer, he said.

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