It’s time to move to private cameras in Williamsport

In recent weeks in Williamsport, privately owned cameras have been used in the apprehension of violent criminal suspects.

We can point to two incidents in January alone in which city police credited the use of cameras in tracking down perpetrators and making arrests.

One of those involved a robbery at knifepoint at a local store. That robbery was caught on the store’s surveillance camera.

The other involved a homicide. That crime was solved after the victim was found coming from an apartment on another camera at the apartment complex.

These two incidents show that the cameras are, indeed, a great tool for law enforcement, but they do not need to be operated or maintained by local government to help.

Let’s go back a decade.

Surveillance cameras that were placed in city parks earlier in this decade were fraught with skepticism, from their $500,000 pricetag to their limited results.

About two years ago, it was proposed that the city move the cameras to streets in high-crime areas, but City Council restricted the publicly funded cameras’ use to parks, and a report of their use was requested.

That report never came about, and few results have been shown for the city’s investment of half a million dollars.

More recently, council has had other priorities that, in our view, seem to need the tax money much more than cameras in public parks.

Let’s talk about the message that countless police administrations have put out over the years: The public are the eyes and ears of police, that private citizens are the most valuable asset in curbing crime.

It seems privately owned cameras are that extra set of eyes that allow everyone to sleep a little more peacefully at night.

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