With homicides up, Chester mayor wants security cameras

Posted: May 23, 2014

Confronting a recent rash of homicides, Chester Mayor John Linder said Wednesday that he wants at least a tenfold increase in the number of security cameras monitoring the streets of his city.

So far this year, 14 homicides have been reported in Chester, the first time in at least a decade the number has reached double digits this early, according to state data.

No suspects have been arrested in any of those cases, Linder said.

Installing more than 100 cameras around the city would make residents feel safer and help police solve crimes when witnesses are reluctant to step forward, he said in an interview.

The project, which would cost an estimated $3 million, would require partnerships and grant funding.

Linder said Widener University had offered to contribute about $250,000 for cameras near its campus.

City officials also are in talks with the Crozer-Keystone Health System and other local businesses.

Linder said fewer than 10 cameras were scattered around Chester currently.

"There's been talk about having cameras around the city, but the initiative never got started," he said.

Chester's latest homicide was Tuesday night, Linder said, when a 24-year-old man was shot to death in the 1400 block of Concord Road.

Also Tuesday night, a 12-year-old boy was shot near the intersection of 23d and Howard Streets, Linder said.

The boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and the circumstances that led to the shooting were unclear, said Linder, who visited with the victim's family Tuesday night.

Chester, with a population of 34,000, has long struggled with gun violence. In 2013, six homicides were reported by the end of May; by the end of the year, there had been 22.

In recent weeks, residents have spoken out against increasing violence.

This month, officials announced "Operation City Surge," an initiative with the Delaware County District Attorney's Office and state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The aim is to increase police presence in Chester, address straw purchases of guns, and involve federal agencies in investigating and prosecuting crime.

Linder said he also was organizing volunteers to stand on street corners and watch over students at the end of the school day, and to monitor public parks during summer.

Adding that improving schools and stimulating economic development could also reduce violence, Linder said: "This has to be comprehensive."


lmccrystal@phillynews.com

610-313-8116

@Lmccrystal

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