WILKES-BARRE – Officials in charge of the city's camera surveillance system declined to comment on its operation the night a 5-year-old boy died after a hit-and-run accident last month on North Street.
At a Hawkeye Security Solutions board meeting Wednesday, Chairman Frank Majikes passed on questions during the public comment portion of the 15-minute session. We've been advised by counsel since that is being investigated, that incident is still under investigation, we can't comment either way to your questions right now, he said.
Investigators provided photos to the news media from private security cameras of the car that allegedly struck Kevin Miller of Dallas on Dec. 21. The suspected car was located in Plains Township and seized on Jan. 4. Investigators identified Tom Letteer Jr. as a person of interest in the case.
Earlier this month, a city spokesman said the camera system captured shots of the fleeing vehicle and provided information on the route it followed from the scene.
At the time of Hawkeye's meeting, 200 plus cameras were in operation throughout the city, said Lou Lau, a city employee and board member of the nonprofit company formed to oversee the surveillance system. About 10 percent were not functioning, he added.
Greg Barrouk, a city employee and board member, said proposals received in the past were around $250,000 a year for a service maintenance contract for the system.
It's not going to be cheap, he said. We need to figure out a way we can afford it.
Frank Sorick, president of the Wilkes-Barre Taxpayers Association, asked if it would be more feasible to train a city employee to maintain the cameras.
But Barrouk said maintenance is more than just going up and cleaning.
Hardware fails as a result of the cameras being exposed to the elements for four or five years, he told Sorick.
They're almost hitting their life expectancy, said Barrouk. I think that's whey the number came back so high when we just put it out there.
The cameras were used to assist police in 121 incidents for the month, and there were six requests to burn videos to discs, said Dale Rinker of Legion Security, the firm which monitors the system's video screens at police headquarters.
Last year the cameras assisted police in 1,558 incidents and 115 requests for videos were made, Rinker said.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting of Hawkeye Security Solutions will be at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in the third-floor conference room of Wilkes-Barre City Hall.