City’s Security Cameras Are Apparently Useless

Remember that part of the opening credits in The Wire when someone throws a rock at a security camera, cracking its screen and jolting it downwards? According to an examination by the Controller’s office, two-thirds of Philadelphia’s 200-odd cameras are about as effective as that one. Here’s what they found:

• Condensation and water in camera domes and on the lens, making it impossible to identify people or objects,
• Images with jagged, pixilated edges when the camera captures movement, making it difficult to read licenses plates or other identifying items,
• Objects such as traffic lights and trees blocking visibility, and
• No image at all, rendering only a pink screen

Mayor Nutter, for his part, shot back Butkovitz’s claim that only 32% of cameras were functioning, arguing that 85% of cameras were actually in good shape. Speaking of The Wire, the city of Baltimore has “7.5 times more cameras per person than Philadelphia, even though it has almost 900,000 less citizens,” according to the report. Which explains why a delegation of City Council members visited Charm City earlier this year for a little tutorial.