WILKES-BARRE — Facing a loss of revenue, Hawkeye Security Solutions accepted a cut in hours from the contractor monitoring the city’s camera surveillance system.
After a closed-door session near the end of its monthly meeting Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, the board of the non-profit organization overseeing the camera system approved the amendment proposed by Legion Security Services Inc.
Legion agreed to cut its hours by nearly half to 88 hours a week, or an average of 12.6 a day, starting May 1. It has been monitoring the cameras around the clock at a command center in Wilkes-Barre Police Department headquarters.
The decision by the board of the Wilkes-Barre Area School District on April 8 to reject a three-year, $270,000 contract with Hawkeye led to the reduction in hours.
Greg Barrouk, a city employee and member of the Hawkeye board, thanked Legion for its help.
“It’s been a rough couple months for us since hearing the school board is relinquishing their funding to (Hawkeye),” he said.
Hawkeye has a contract with the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority and was paid $15,428 for February and March.
The new arrangement with Legion keeps Hawkeye within budget until the end of the year, Barrouk said.
The Legion reduction is the latest development for Hawkeye and the $2 million system that went on line in 2010. The system’s usefulness was questioned after 5-year-old Kevin Miller of Dallas was struck and fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver on West North Street in December. There were Hawkeye cameras in the area, but police released photos of the suspected hit-and-run car taken by security cameras at King’s College and a private business.
Frank Majikes, Hawkeye board chairman, defended the system against the criticism and said the public needs to know the system is working.
City police last week charged Thomas Letteer Jr., 23, of Plains Township, in the boy’s death.
“Certainly this board is proud of the importance and the role that the camera system played in the arrest regarding that case,” Majikes said.
The reduction applies only to Legion and the system will be monitored around the clock, Barrouk explained.
Two police officers assigned to light duty work rather than patrol will work in the command center for consecutive eight-hour shifts. A Legion employee will round out the schedule and be paid $15 an hour. When no officers are available, Legion employees will work the shifts. The pay rate goes up to $22.50 an hour if Legion is required to fill a shift with less than three days notice, according to the amended contract.