Below are some of the frequently asked questions we sometimes receive. If you have more questions or concerns please reach out on our contact us page.
How can I get a camera on my block?
At this time the Lancaster Safety Coalition is working on a pilot phase, upgrading all of our existing cameras and their supporting hardware. Our current system is aging and the technology is outdated. After the pilot phase is completed we will start the main overhaul project for the entire system. During the main overhaul we will be evaluating new camera locations and depending on funding are planning to add some additional cameras. When we begin to evaluate new locations we will be considering many factors to determine the new locations that can provide the largest amount of community good. Factors like crime data, proximity to open spaces like parks or schools and public input will all be considered. The most significant challenges we face for adding new locations is what a camera is mounted on and how that video data gets back to the servers. Regulations beyond our control have changed since the original system was installed that will impact how and where we can add more cameras. We will share more information about this process as it becomes available.
How did the LSC decide where the current cameras were going to be located?
Decisions were based on ensuring the broadest possible coverage across the entire City of Lancaster that our funding would allow. In the early stages, locations were chosen according to three criteria:
- Studies of Police reports on high crime areas
- Public Parks
- Any area where large public gatherings could take place
If you review the camera map you will see a fairly even distribution across the city. There is no one area of the city with a much higher concentration of cameras than any other area.
Who has access to LSC video?
Strict organizational policies dictate that video evidence only be shared with law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office, and attorneys with valid subpoenas for use in criminal investigations and court proceedings.
Attorneys and Law Offices – Please call our office directly during regular business hours ((717) 397-3137) with questions about video preservation, submitting a subpoena or arranging video pick up.
How long is video stored by the LSC?
Any video not intended for use in a criminal case is permanently destroyed within 14 days as newer images overwrite older images on the system.
Do Coalition cameras have facial recognition capabilities?
No. The Coalition has never used facial recognition software and has no plans to do so in the future.
Do Coalition cameras look into my home’s windows?
No. Coalition cameras close to private residences are digitally masked so that black boxes appear over a home’s windows when a camera is turned in that direction. Only the LSC’s Monitoring Supervisor and Executive Director are authorized to access the system’s privacy masking software.
Has there ever been a substantiated complaint of inappropriate use or abuse of the system?
No. Since the first camera was installed in the city, the Coalition has maintained an unblemished record of service to the Lancaster community.
Are monitoring staff volunteers or paid employees of the LSC?
All Camera System Operators (CSOs) are paid staff that have been screened before hiring and receive significant training before working without supervision. At this time all CSOs are part time. If we have any open CSO positions they will be listed on our jobs page.
Are Camera System Operators (CSOs) screened before being trained? And what training do CSOs receive?
Yes. All monitoring and office staff must pass a drug screening, criminal background check and PA’s Child Abuse History Clearance before the start of employment. They are also subject to random drug-screening throughout the year. Due to the sensitive nature of video information and privacy concerns, Coalition employees sign a confidentiality agreement that forbids them from sharing any private citizen information seen or heard during the course of carrying out their duties.
CSOs are trained on the use of the monitoring center’s technology i.e. various network components, video recording, data storage/retrieval, etc., camera system operators receive instruction in:
- Using good judgment to recognize and report triggering events and/or criminal behavior
- Providing accurate descriptions of individuals and events
- Radio communications and codes used by emergency personnel
- The law as it relates to video safety cameras
- Ethics and accountabilities associated with monitoring public spaces
- Diversity and cultural awareness
- The avoidance of racial profiling and/or stereotyping
- Evidence handling and the chain of custody
- Internal LSC policies and procedures
LSC training methods and content are routinely evaluated to ensure that current research and best practices are included.
Why is the system operated by a nonprofit instead of the Police Department or City Government?
The LSC was born out of the Lancaster Crime Commission’s Report and designed to be a high-tech neighborhood watch program of “neighbors looking out for neighbors”. In response to citizen opinions expressed during several Crime Commission hearings, organizational founders were committed to creating a coalition of community partners and a system controlled by neither the Police nor Government. The input from these public hearings clearly indicated that the community preferred a local organization operated as a non-profit, as opposed to one owned and operated by police, government entities, or a for-profit corporation.