By Steve Swogetinsky
A camera system set up for Philadelphia Police to monitor the city court clerk’s office had been down for some time earlier this month.
The camera system was put in place last year after a broken camera system was part of a dispute between the mayor and previous aldermen over the status of a clerk who was fired and then rehired.
After weeks of controversy, the previous council established a policy to establish a video feed from the municipal court office to be monitored at the nearby police department.
Chris Stokes of Stokes Technologies LLC., Which installed the system, told the mayor and the council of aldermen at their Tuesday night meeting that a software glitch had prevented the connection between the registry and the police station from working anymore. early this month.
“It had not been used in the police department for several weeks,” Stokes said, adding that the camera still had backup recordings. “The mayor asked me to come here and check the system to make sure it is working. … There were no gaps in monitoring.
Microsoft changed some software that prevented cameras from communicating locally, Stokes said.
“I had to find software that would help us recover that ability,” Stokes said. “I implemented this at PD last week. They are now able to see the camera system live. “
The problem was discovered when Ward 1 Alderman Justin Clearman asked questions.
“I ask a lot of questions to see if everyone is keeping up with things,” Clearman said. “Luckily, (when he asked about the cameras), they said for the last two weeks, we couldn’t see anything. I got this information from an anonymous source who let me know they were gone. That’s when I called Chris Stokes. In 30 minutes, I heard the mayor and the chief call him.
Police Chief Eric Lyons said he believed the cameras had not worked for a few weeks.
“We watch it through the Internet,” Lyons said. “… They took down Internet Explorer and that’s what we were using. Once it stopped working, that’s when the camera stopped working.
Lyons said the department does not have a designated person who constantly monitors the clerk’s department.
“He’s being watched,” Lyons said. “We don’t have a dispatcher who is constantly looking at the screen. “
Clearman said it was important for the cameras to work.
“I don’t know how long (the cameras were down),” Clearman said. “Two weeks looks good to me. I don’t think we’re looking at anything substantive. It should work when we do a check. … “
Mayor James Young is happy that the system is working now and Ward 2 Alderman Jim Fulton stressed the importance of the system.
“My main focus is safety,” Fulton said. “(If there’s a problem) you have to call the police. This is for security reasons. “
Stokes said there were two accounts for the camera system: the master master account which authorizes system changes and a user account for the police department, which only allows viewing. He handed an envelope to the mayor. Stokes said he had reset the password, and on the piece of paper in the envelope was the only copy of the new password.