Third public forum on citywide surveillance proposal slated for Tuesday

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Montez Parker, the lead consultant for a feasibility study on a citywide surveillance network in York City, speaks to a crowd at a public forum on Tuesday, April 6.

A third public forum to discuss a proposed citywide surveillance system in York City will take place Tuesday evening.

The forum is a part of a feasibility study for the proposal, which has raised concerns from some city residents and civil rights groups. The event is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene's York City campus, 350 Chestnut St.

The forum will be led by Montez Parker, a consultant who was hired by Better York, a local nonprofit organization. Better York, the city and the York County District Attorney's Office raised more than $30,000 to fund the study, which is expected to be completed by mid-June.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania blasted the concept of installing security cameras throughout the city.

Alex Domingos, organizer for the ACLU's Campaign for Smart Justice, called the proposal "an expansion of the police state" that would lead to more people of color dying at the hands of police.

More:ACLU: York City surveillance proposal could create more potentially fatal encounters with police

More:Public forum: Mixed reaction to York City surveillance system proposal

Residents' criticism also has focused on privacy concerns.

If adopted, the camera system would be based on the work done by the Lancaster Safety Coalition, a nonprofit organization that oversees about 170 cameras in Lancaster City.

Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow and Mayor Michael Helfrich have praised the group's work, arguing it would create a safer environment throughout the city.

It would also create more equitable surveillance because the current surveillance cameras in the city — which are operated by private businesses — create a biased system that focuses too heavily on the downtown area, Helfrich said last month.

If a program were implemented in York City, officials say it would be operated by a nonprofit organization with a community board.

The public is encouraged to register for Tuesday's forum by filling out the online form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScR-IvMvwRj97-dEjdrzTMWpU2sEkZ2Vnr014bzxqWzMdqtEg/viewform.

Those unable to attend the event can offer their input at an online survey, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeCVBdz-glwcQmlivRDwQ3epaU1sFUUzq8ZL6UkoGuKLwlinA/viewform.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.