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Clarion Borough Police Department to Apply for State Grant to Install Security Cameras, PA System on Main Street

Thursday, September 22, 2022 @ 12:09 AM

Posted by Jacob Deemer

IMG_4376 (1)CLARION BOROUGH, Pa. (EYT) – The Clarion Borough Council has granted permission to the police department to apply for a Local Law Enforcement Support Program, which would include the implementation of security cameras and a PA sound system on Main Street. 

(PHOTOS: Captured by Jacob Deemer/EYT Media.)

The motion came during council’s second monthly meeting in which Officer Justin O’Neil presented the application on behalf of the Clarion Borough Police Department.

“This funding (is) for technology improvements to help reduce violent crime or increase the solvability of a crime,” Officer O’Neil explained to council. “So, our project was that a PA system for downtown would be nice. We worked that part in with cameras for downtown with a PA system.”

The grant, which came as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s final capstone budget, provides law enforcement agencies with the necessary resources to implement information technology improvements, purchase or upgrade equipment, cover nontraditional law enforcement personnel costs, support retention and recruitment efforts, and provide necessary training.

“So, if something were to happen downtown during ALF or a big event, we would have a way to communicate with all the residents,” O’Neil 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) are really excited about it,” council president Carol Lapinto said.

Mayor Jennifer Fulmer Vinson chimed in, “Yeah, because it would also include a sound system, which is something that a lot of downtown businesses have really wanted for multiple reasons.”

Priority consideration for these grants will be given to areas of Pennsylvania with high rates of violence or to law enforcement agencies with low clearance rates (that is, the ratio of arrests to known offenses).

Officer O’Neil went on to explain to council that the department anticipates using the security cameras to get descriptions of possible suspects involved in crime, as well as including body cams for officers to wear while on duty as part of the grant.

Clarion Borough Police Officer Justin O'Neil (left) speaks on behalf of the department during the borough council meeting on Tuesday, September 20.

Clarion Borough Police Officer Justin O’Neil (left) speaks on behalf of the department during the borough council meeting on Tuesday, September 20.

“What Chief (Bill Peck) said at the meeting was, every Autumn Leaf Festival, there’s no way to evacuate 100,000 people without having some type of system,” Lapinto said. “I know several members of council have questions about the cameras. The merchants were very excited. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it’s necessary.”

Lapinto’s comment prompted council member Rachel Roberts to say, “What are the concerns for having security cameras for our downtown businesses?”

Council member Benjamin Aaron swiftly replied, “I have absolutely no problem if (the cameras) are privately owned.”

“Large municipalities have cameras all over, and they’re able to track where someone has gone in real time,” Roberts said.

“And, when those went up, the minority was in the opposition to those. I mean, that’s why we vote on things. You’re not going to change my mind,” Aaron stated.

The conversation prompted O’Neil to explain that the camera’s view would be the same for anyone else walking along Main Street and will not be pointed toward business doors.

“There shouldn’t be any privacy issues is what you’re saying,” Mayor Fulmer Vinson said. “The cameras won’t be peeking into anybody’s windows.”

When the issue came to vote, the motion passed with Aaron standing as the lone council member to vote against it.

Grant awards are expected to be announced in December 2022.

In other business, borough council accepted the resignation of Jessica Schwabenbauer as Administrative/Stormwater Assistant, effective September 23, 2022. Council subsequently granted permission to advertise to hire a full-time Administrative/Stormwater Assistant.

Lastly, council approved permission to procure services for Clarion Borough Contract 2022-4 Fire Department Building Parapet Repair Project. The project, as Public Works Foreman Todd Colosimo noted, will aim toward fixing a leakage issue in the fire department building.

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