Security cameras for Homewood move ahead after heated debate

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After a lengthy discussion that turned emotional on several occasions, Pittsburgh City Council offered preliminary approval this afternoon to a gunshot detection and surveillance camera system for eastern city neighborhoods that have been hot spots of violence.

The legislation was introduced by Councilman Ricky Burgess, who said recent violence in the East End has underscored the need for the cameras.

"How much is the value of a human life? That is the question that we as a city and a council must answer today," he said.

The proposal would install around 60 cameras and around 45 gunshot sensors in a three-square-mile area that centers on Homewood, but includes portions of adjacent neighborhoods. The sensors would alert police when shots were fired, giving a location, and direct cameras to point in the direction the shots came from. The project is slated to cost $1.15 million.

Some council members were concerned because the project was not bid out. Instead, two companies the city already has contracts with -- SST, Inc. and Avrio RMS Group -- will take on the project.

Councilman Bill Peduto voted for the measure today, but said he would not vote give final approval until he saw justification that the project did not need to be bid out.

The measure passed unanimously, though Councilman Patrick Dowd and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak -- who had questioned the project -- were not present when the vote was taken.

The legislation is up for a final vote Tuesday.

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Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.


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