No Help for Police from Big Brother!
Last Friday evening, sometime after 9:00pm, there was an armed robbery at the Skateboard Park on North 4th Street. Two visitors from New York City, one armed, were going through the belongings, backpacks, etc of the skateboarders and looking for stuff to steal. Initial reports of shots being fired proved to be incorrect. Sunbury PD responded quickly to the call. The would-be robbers were arrested and arraigned and are currently languishing in the county jail. Kudos to our police department for dealing with this threatening situation so promptly and efficiently.
This incident leaves a huge question mark hanging over the new camera system. Where are the cameras? Certainly not at the Skateboard Park. Under normal administrative procedures, the cameras would have been put under the control of the police department, to be deployed where and when they thought they could best be used to fight city crime. However, down the rabbit hole of Sunbury politics, where nothing is quite what it may seem, this consideration would appear to have never entered the head of Mayor Persing. In a move, as baffling as it was illogical, the entire $200,000 stock of cameras was given by him to the Parks & Recreation Department under Councilman Jim Eister.
Cameras are springing up like mushrooms in strange locations throughout the city. First it was the swimming pool, then Cameron Park, the David L. Persing Sports Complex, and now cameras have even been observed on the Riverfront pointing out across the river. Are they expecting an invasion to be launched from the far shore by those fierce denizens of Snyder County?
This whole project is shrouded in a City Hall veil of secrecy, but it would appear that tax dollars are being squandered in the most irresponsible way. Did Persing bother to consult with Police Chief Steve Mazzeo and include him in the decision making process? Does he actually want to fight crime, or would he rather hamstring our police force and endanger the safety of our citizens? Why do we even need cameras at the swimming pool, except to allow for surreptitious spying on bikini-clad sunbathers?
We should also be told exactly who might have access to the cameras, the feeds of which are available over the Internet to anyone in possession of the list of their IP addresses. Is this list in a secure place or is it being passed around among city employees and others? Who is watching? Why are they watching? Where are they watching from? What are they looking for? Have they received any training? How are they being paid? Are the NSA involved?
There can only be two possible uses for security cameras – either to fight crime or to spy on our citizens. From what we have seen, local criminals don’t have much to worry about. The cameras certainly pose little threat to their thriving businesses.
Sunbury PD, the people who could actually use this technology to make our city safer, would seem to be as much in the dark as the rest of us. We have heard it said that Public Works Manager Mike Bordner is monitoring feeds from his office computer. Others have suggested that perhaps the Eye of Sauron is being used by Parks & Recreation Director Jim Eister.
Next time you stroll along the Riverfront, enjoy a sub in Cameron Park, walk around the softball fields or sunbathe at the pool, just remember – someone at City Hall may be watching your every move. Big Brother is alive and well and right here in our midst in Sunbury.