Wilkes-Barre Is Watching

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WILKES-BARRE -- The city of Wilkes-Barre unveiled several new security cameras Wednesday that have been installed at the intermodal transportation center.

These are the same kind of cameras that have been questioned in the past about their reliability.

For years now, Wilkes-Barre has had a network of cameras watching spots all over the city. Now a very busy spot in the downtown is under surveillance, too.

Despite a lot of violent crime in the news lately in Wilkes-Barre, the mayor insists the existing cameras have been a deterrent, and he's glad there are more of them.

It's easy to miss the small cameras all over the intermodal transportation center and parking garage in Wilkes-Barre but city leaders say the cameras are seeing a lot.

At the command center, images have been coming from 250 cameras all over the city for around five years.  Now the mayor announced 64 of them at the intermodal center.

"We know that the criminals that would be here trying to break in to cars and do harm to people, once they know they're being watched, a lot of that is going to stop," said Mayor Thomas Leighton.

There are cameras recording activity on the parking decks, inside the elevators, and watching buses load and unload.

Some critics have questioned why cameras aren't in spots to catch more crime in Wilkes-Barre.  City leaders say the intermodal center is an important spot to have them.

"The city strategizes to put the cameras in the places that they'll give us the most effective use.  Cameras in some areas aren't as effective as they are in others. This certainly is a good area for cameras," said Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Gerard Dessoye.

If city cameras don't catch a close-up of a criminal in action inside the garage, there are cameras at all the exits, to make sure they get that close up as a thief or other criminal leaves.

"I think that's real good, because crime is going up," said Rosemary Finholdt.

We told bus passengers about the new cameras.  Many of them liked the idea.

"Personally, I've seen some drug dealing going on in here.  I wouldn't even bring my kids here," said Laura Rauby. "I'm glad they're watching."

The mayor says all the cameras are definitely a deterrent, and he says they are also helping catch criminals.

"We're very happy with the system, very happy with the job it's done and this is just another technical tool that will assist our police department and investigators in stopping crime in downtown Wilkes-Barre and city wide."

All these new cameras come with a cost of $600,000.

The mayor says that has been paid for by state money and federal transportation grants.


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