(Photos: Jacob Deemer/EYT Media.)
The proposal came during the board’s second monthly meeting where Officer Justin O’Neill submitted the request on behalf of the Clarion Borough Police Department.
“This funding is (for) improving technology to help reduce violent crime or increase the solvability of a crime,” Officer O’Neill told the board. “So our project was to be a PA system for downtown, which is great. We worked on this part with cameras for downtown with a PA system.”
The grant, which came as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s final final budget, provides law enforcement agencies with the resources to implement IT improvements, purchase or upgrade equipment, cover non-traditional law enforcement personnel costs, support retention and recruitment efforts, and provide needed exercise.
“If something happens downtown during an ALF or a big event, we’ll have a way to connect with all of the residents,” O’Neill said.
In the proposal, the sound system and cameras would be installed along Main Street, between South 4th Avenue and South 8th Avenue.
“We were at the Destination Clarion Downtown meeting, and the merchants (on Main Street) were very excited about it,” said Council President Carol Labineto.
Mayor Jennifer Vollmer Vinson said, “Yes, because it would also include an audio system, which is something a lot of downtown businesses wanted for a variety of reasons.”
Priority will be given to these grants for areas of Pennsylvania with high rates of violence or for law enforcement agencies with low clearance rates (ie the ratio of arrests to known crimes).
Officer O’Neill went on to explain to the board that management expects to use security cameras to obtain descriptions of potential suspects involved in the crime, as well as to include body cameras for officers to wear while on duty as part of the grant.
“What the president (Bill Beck) said at the meeting, at every Autumn Leaf Fest, there is no way to evacuate 100,000 people without some sort of order in place,” Labinto said. I know many council members have questions about cameras. The merchants were very excited. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is necessary.”
Lapinto’s comment prompted Councilman Rachel Roberts to say, “What are the concerns about having security cameras for our downtown businesses?”
Councilman Benjamin Aaron quickly replied, “I have absolutely no problem if (the cameras) are privately owned.”
“The big municipalities have cameras everywhere, and they can track where someone has gone in real time,” Roberts said.
And when those ascended, the minority was in opposition to them. I mean, that’s why we vote on things. “You won’t change my mind,” Aaron said.
The conversation prompted O’Neill to clarify that the view of the camera would be the same for anyone else walking along Main Street and would not be directed toward the business doors.
“There shouldn’t be any privacy issues,” Mayor Vollmer Vinson said. Cameras won’t peek into anyone’s windows.
When the issue was put to a vote, the motion passed with Aaron standing as the only council member to vote against.
The awarding of grants is expected to be announced in December 2022.
In other business, the Township Council has approved the resignation of Jessica Schwabenbauer as Administrative Assistant/Stormwater Assistant, effective September 23, 2022. Thereafter, the Council granted permission to advertise to hire a full-time Administrative Assistant/Stormwater Assistant.
Finally, the Board approved permission to purchase services for the Clarion Borough Contract 2022-4 to repair the fire department’s building bulkheads. The project, as pointed out by Foreman Todd Colosimo Fuhrmann, aims to fix the leak problem in the fire department building.
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