WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — They are located all over the city of Wilkes-Barre and they were supposed to help keep us safe. But they haven’t worked in years.
We are talking about security cameras owned by the city also known as the Hawkeye System. Eyewitness News talked Thursday to the man who will take over as mayor in January about the future of the system. George Brown says he is not sure yet what will happen with these cameras but he insists public safety is a top priority
It was a hot summer afternoon on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Lots of folks came to enjoy the farmers market. All of this in full view of the city’s security cameras. They are set up all around Public Square. But these cameras have been dark for years, something the folks we spoke with wish would change.
“I think if they were fixed up, I would feel safer. I think the cameras would catch a lot of crimes that definitely go on downtown and make it safer to go on lunch and enjoy Wilkes-Barre again,” Samantha Collins of Wilkes-Barre said.
“I think something should be done with them. They are just garbage if they are not working,” Darlene Maslar of Wilkes-Barre said.
And they haven’t been working properly for the past several years. The system, formerly known as the Hawkeye System, was installed in 2008 at a cost of nearly $4 million.
“They could be a good resource to fight crime if it’s done the right way,” Brown said.
Brown will take over as mayor in January, pending some sort of political miracle after winning both parties’ nominations in the May primary.
“What I mean by that is good high-quality cameras system and make sure they are updating and maintained properly they can be effective,” Brown said.
But Brown says he will not make any decision without meeting with those who protect and serve.
“What I’m going to do as mayor is sit down with the police chief and the administration. We have a limited amount of money. What’s the best avenue for the citizens to make them safe?” Brown said.
Bob Kadluboski owns a towing service in the city. He is very active in crimewatch efforts.
“If it is going to be anything like it was now, no. As far as I’m concerned, it was a failure, a waste of all that money,” Kadluboski said.
Brown says there is no magic wand with these cameras. It will take money if they decide to get them up and running. Money he says the city simply does not have. He will reach out to state and local lawmakers to try and secure grants to help pay for the cameras.
The current mayor, Tony George, told Eyewitness News several months ago that he too would like to have the cameras up and running, but says with the city possibly entering Act 47 distressed status, it was not likely to happen.