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Lockport, NY, July 18, 2008 – Cameras Keep Concerts Secure
Businessman donates cameras for police use during concerts
by April Amadon (Union-Sun & Journal)
When Lockport resident Andy Chapman heard about the Molson Canal Concert Series, he was excited for what it could bring to Lockport.
Before the concerts began, Chapman read in the US&J about the police department's preparations for the concert series, which included plans for extra manpower and help from surrounding agencies.
"I really was kind of concerned," he said. "I love Lockport, I love living there and I really just wanted to do something." Chapman owns IK Systems, one of Western New York's largest video surveillance companies. The company has provided surveillance equipment for clients across the country, including the Department of Homeland Security and the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
Chapman volunteered to donate and install the video monitoring system, including two remote cameras, a flat screen monitor and a digital video recorder, all at no charge.
The cameras were installed on top of two Ulrich City Center buildings, with approval from owner David Ulrich. They will stay there until the end of the concert series, when Chapman will take them down.
The feeds run to the LPD's mobile command center, which is set up next to the Harrison's building on Walnut Street during the concerts.
Inside the command center during last Friday's concert, Detective Scott Seekins and Capt. Rick Podgers watched on the monitors as concertgoers filled the area.
The cameras were installed after the first concert. Podgers said he first tested the system July 1 and was pleased with the cameras' ability to zoom in on vehicles several hundred feet away.
"We can look the length of the parking lot at a car and make the (license) plate full screen," he said.
The cameras are positioned so police can see the entire concert area. Using a joystick in the command center, an officer can toggle back and forth between views to see both the traffic on Walnut Street and the crowd.
Podgers said the LPD ran into difficulties during the first concert when a concert-goer suffered a medical problem. It was hard to locate officers because of the density of the crowd, he said.
"From the ground, when there's so many people, we have a hard time finding people or finding each other," he said.
Now, in the event of an emergency, officers in the command center can use information from the video monitors to give directions to those on the ground.
Chapman said the equipment is worth between $20,000 and $30,000.
He said he made the donation without a second thought, referencing the slogan for IK Systems: "Securing America's FutureÃ‚Â®."
"It's a sin to be able to have all this equipment sitting around and not being utilized when i see a huge need," Chapman said. "I'm happy to do it."
IK Systems' own Melkon Babigian talks surveillance and security with CEM Magazine in "Management by Video" Read the article >