WILKES-BARRE — Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton says the Hawkeye surveillance cameras are here to stay. He tells us the city will continue using the cameras, even though the nonprofit organization that runs them may break up.
The small, unassuming cameras, planted throughout the city of Wilkes-Barre, have caused a lot of controversy in the past few years.
Now the control of these cameras may switch from the nonprofit group Hawkeye Security Solutions to the city.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton says switching hands has more to do with who’s running what than how much it costs.
“The Hawkeye board did its job. We got the funding for them. They set the project up. They worked in conjunction with city officials. But pretty much, their job has been completed,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.
But the Hawkeye board also says it doesn’t have enough money to continue operating the 300 cameras in the city. Mayor Leighton says if Hawkeye dissolves, the city would take over. He expects the city would get grant money and help from the parking authority to cover camera costs. If not, he says the city would move city funds around to make it work.
Peter Webby runs a food truck at the farmer’s market on the square and says he’s glad the cameras will stay.
“I think it would be a benefit for the city to watch the crime and whatever else is going on around here. It would be a plus for everyone in the city. Why would you get rid of something that’s overseeing the problems?” said food truck owner Peter Webby.
But some people who live in the city say the cameras are a waste of time, effort, and money.
“Why put more money into a program that obviously isn’t working? It seems to be failing in so many different ways. If you have cameras out there aren’t working, it’s not any good,” one person said.
The Hawkeye board could make a decision about dissolving as early as next month. Calls to the Parking Authority about whether they would continue to help fund the cameras were not returned.