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12 Video Cameras to Act as Eyes for Monroeville

Samson X Horne
By Samson X Horne | Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016, 10:57 p.m.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office will provide 12 high-resolution video cameras to monitor vehicles throughout Monroeville in an effort to reduce crime.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. told Monroeville public officials, businesses leaders and some residents about the initiative Tuesday.

“We’ve found over the years that the best deterrent to crime is knowing you’re going to be seen and knowing you’re going to get caught,” Zappala said.

Supplying the new cameras, which have license plate recognition capabilities at a cost of about $4,000 each, “is a continuation of what was started after the shooting at the mall,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for Zappala.

Officials declined to disclose locations for the cameras.

Police say Tarod Thornhill, 18, of Penn Hills opened fire into a crowd at Macy’s at the Monroeville Mall in 2015, wounding three people. His trial is scheduled for Oct. 17. Officials implemented a youth escort policy on weekends and reopened a police substation in the mall after the shooting.

The cameras through the DA’s office are an expansion of surveillance cameras in place in Monroeville, said Sean Logan, CEO of Visit Monroeville and president of the Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce. The Monroeville Police Department monitors those cameras.

“We’re really just bringing crime prevention to the next level. We have to take the next step in crime prevention, and that’s technology with cameras,” Logan said.

The recognition software in the cameras will serve as “virtual checkpoints” in Monroeville, which is home to a busy shopping district, hospitals, the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus, and the Monroeville Convention Center. About 28,000 people live in the community, located at the “crossroads” of Interstate 376, Route 22 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Monroeville Mayor Greg Erosenko encouraged business leaders to get involved by installing their own cameras that would link with the other cameras; doing so, he said, not only will assist with law enforcement but will “help your customers feel safe.”

“Let’s be honest, bad guys don’t want their face on film,” Erosenko said.

Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole said such a linked system is possible.

Two men were wounded in a daylight shooting June 21 outside a shopping center near the Monroeville Mall. Their injuries were not life-threatening. Bullets damaged the storefronts of two businesess.

“With these cameras, if you’re going to commit a crime, you’re going to get caught,” Logan said.

Samson X Horne is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 412-320-7845 or shorne@tribweb.com.

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