In Cindy Bass, Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, News by admin

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – City Council today introduced legislation to increase the city’s capital budget by $1.8 Million to pay for new security camera technologies to be deployed near city recreation centers and playgrounds that have experienced incidents of gun violence.

The new Safe Play Zone security cameras will be equipped with 360-degree views and technology to better assist Philadelphia police in their efforts to safeguard city recreation centers and playgrounds.

The legislation, introduced today by Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District) at the request of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District), would amend the city’s Fiscal 2022 Capital Budget and Program to add $1.8 Million to the capital spending plans.

Council President Clarke said conversations this summer with Police Department officials, along with ongoing gun violence at or near recreation centers and playgrounds across the city over the past year, led to the introduction of the legislation to fund new security cameras with enhanced technologies and abilities to view surrounding areas in a 360-degree arc.

“Any gun violence or shooting anywhere in our city is a terrible thing,” Council President Clarke said. “But it’s particularly reprehensible when gun violence happens anywhere near a city playground or recreation center – which has happened too frequently over the past year. We need our playgrounds and rec centers to be safe havens for children and families. These enhanced security cameras and improved technologies will better equip police and law enforcement in their efforts to keep these locations safe.”

“This bill can only make the City of Philadelphia better,” said Councilmember Cindy Bass, who chairs Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee. “As the Parks & Recreation Committee chair, I know how much our neighborhoods need better cameras, allowing residents to feel safer while enabling police to do better for our communities. In areas where violent gun crimes occur in public parks near our children, putting resources, such as this $1.8 million, is a step we’ve been waiting for and it’s a step we need.”

“The safety for all that use our City’s playgrounds and Recreational Centers are paramount to the Philadelphia Police Department,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “Recently, we have witnessed brazen shootings at or near recreational sites with no regard to those in the vicinity. In an effort to curb and deter future violence, the installation of 360-degree cameras will support and increase our existing SafeCam efforts. Enhancing security camera coverage and technology serves as an important crime prevention and investigation tool to ultimately keep our City a safer place for our youth and families.”

Several fatal shootings, along with non-fatal shootings, have occurred near or on city playgrounds or recreation centers over the past year, including centers in West Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, Kingsessing and other locations.

This is not the first initiative from Council designed to protect children and families recreating at city playgrounds. In 2019, Council passed legislation, the Safe Havens ordinance, to prohibit firearms or other offensive weapons from being carried onto playgrounds or recreation center property. However, the General Assembly in Harrisburg has refused to even allow a public hearing on enabling legislation needed to allow Philadelphia’s Safe Havens law to take effect.

“We can’t wait for help from Harrisburg,” President Clarke said. “We need to continue taking active steps locally to better protect our citizens. The Safe Play Zone security cameras, with improved 360-degree capacity, is another constructive step towards improving public safety in our city.”

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Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil

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