High Tech Surveillance in Amish Country

Lancaster is a relatively peaceful city of 54,000 people situated in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country.  Horse drawn buggies are not unusual in the surrounding area.  It certainly does not have the same level of crime as many large American cities.  Last year there were 3 murders in Lancaster.  

Lancaster is in the process of installing 165 surveillance cameras.  This blanket of surveillance comes as the result of the recommendations of a  2001 special commission which recommended the 2.7 million dollar system.  Once fully operational, Lancaster will have more surveillance cameras than some large cities like Philadelphia and Boston.   

Unlike other jurisdictions where surveillance cameras are primarily controlled and monitored by police, the Lancaster model relies on civilian monitors who are screened, trained and employed by the Lancaster Community Safety Coalition.   

The use of civilian monitors has raised some privacy concerns.  

The CCTV initiative in Lancaster is supported by local  police.  Statistical evidence as to the effectiveness of the system is as yet inconclusive.

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