Wilkes-Barre will take over Hawkeye camera surveillance system

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]

WILKES-BARRE — The board of Hawkeye Security Solutions Inc. put themselves out of business Wednesday and prepared to hand over the wireless camera surveillance system to the city.

The dissolution of the not-for-profit corporation should be effective Dec. 26, leaving the city in charge of the system built with $3,660,232 in grants.

“I just pray that they maintain what we put in place,” said former city police chief Joseph Coyne, who along with chairman Frank Majikes has served on the volunteer board from Hawkeye’s formation on Sept. 12, 2008.

The city will take over an updated and improved system with high definition cameras and new computer servers and one that the board said has proven to be a crime fighting tool since it went online more than five years ago. It also will have a steady revenue source for at least two years through a $100,000 annual contract with the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority.

Still Coyne wanted assurance in the form of data that Hawkeye has done its job.

City Administrator Greg Barrouk,vice chairman and board treasurer, said he’s compiling a list for a Right to Know request on just the subject Coyne raised.

“It’s very important to show the significance of this board the cameras,” Barrouk said.

He vouched for Hawkeye’s worth as a security system set up to assist police and make the city safer for residents and visitors.

“I can honestly say I feel like we’ve done that. We’re handing over a very valuable tool to our police department, a million dollar asset to our police department. I think we accomplished our goal,” Barrouk said.

Dale Rinker of Legion Security, the contractor which monitors the cameras at Hawkeye’s control room at the police station, provided the latest update of activity and event logs kept by the company.

“The event log is anything that draws our attention to the camera system,” he said, listing motor vehicle accidents, traffic stops and some type of crime as examples. The employees, mainly former police officers, listen to the police scanner and access a camera in the area of the scanner report.

For 2014, there 1,410 events, Rinker said. As of Nov. 30 of this year there were 1,359 events. That number will likely surpass last year’s total, Rinker said.

Legion compiles an activity log of problems with the camera and assists police with reviewing videos or obtaining a photo, he added.

Last year there 91 entries on the log. To date this year there are 99, Rinker said.

The monitors also view cameras from the parking authority garages and report activity to 911, he said.

Whether the company will continue its monthly agreement when the city takes over is yet to be determined. Hawkeye paid Legion $15 an hour for 88 hours of work a week, according to the agreement.

“It’ll continue until they’re told otherwise not to,” Barrouk said. The contract requires a 30-day notice of cancellation, he said.

Board member Louis Lau with the city’s information technology department, said he also reviews the cameras and has assisted police. Lau said he does not keep a log of requests from police, but this year he’s exported 58 video clips from 58 different cameras. He estimated he’s looked at video 100 times this year, explaining, “Not every request results in a clip. Not every request can be met.”

He advocated for the city to continue to operate the cameras. “I think it’s a great system,” Lau said.

Majikes thanked the current and past board members for their work. Also attending were board members hotelier Gus Genetti and city police officer Tom Kupetz. Board member and city councilman Mike Merritt did not attend.

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott