In Pennsylvania, Live Monitoring for a City's Surveillance System

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Police will begin monitoring the images from three surveillance cameras downtown for a yearlong trial period.

The Borough Council voted Monday to approve the recommendation of a citizens advisory committee.

The cameras were installed in September 2003 as a crime deterrent but so far have recorded street activity automatically with no live monitor. Police have reviewed the recordings only occasionally.

The new plan will put an auxiliary officer on duty to monitor the cameras live from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, relatively high-crime nights.

The monitoring will start in July. Councilwoman Cathy Dauler called the plan "a natural progression," though others criticized the cameras as an invasion of privacy. "I'd like to sell them or throw them in the dumpster," said Councilman Tom Daubert.

Police Chief Tom King said crime on that stretch of East Beaver Street declined 6 percent in the year after the cameras were installed, while overall crime downtown increased 10 percent.