Former Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey broke his post-primary election silence to voice his support for surveillance cameras on the city's streets.
McKelvey, who has been unavailable to reporters since the night of the May primary for the Democratic nomination for Mahoning County commissioner in which he was thrashed by incumbent David Ludt, called last week to express his opinion about the surveillance issue.
The issue has has been the topic of this writer's Sunday column in The Vindicator for the three past weeks and the blog. The attention was prompted by the recent experience of a Vindicator editor whose car was swarmed by a bunch of young thugs on Fifth Avenue on the city's North Side.
"During the last two years of my administration we were doing a lot of research of surveillance cameras," McKelvey said. "I don't think it's off base. We started looking at [the cameras]when a nearby city in western Pennsylvania [installed them.]"
However, the Pennsylvania city's surveillance is based on hardwire system that requires a monitoring station.
What the McKelvey administration was studying was a camera loop system which would record activities on the streets for 48 or 72 hours. The videotapes would then be removed from the cameras and played back by individuals involved in the surveillance.
In fact, the former mayor is of the opinion that neighborhood block watch groups should be given responsibility for the surveillance cameras. The city would purchase a bucket truck to facilitate the removal of the videotapes from the cameras, which would be placed so high that they would beyond the reach of scofflaws.
"You'll have block watches fighting for them," McKelvey said. "You'll have citizens saying 'Please put one on our block.' Cameras are a supplement to existing police initiatives."
The former mayor said he intends to talk to his successor, Mayor Jay Williams, about the need for surveillance cameras on the streets of the city of Youngstown.
McKelvey's opinions are important in setting the stage for a community-wide discussion about the troubled streets of the city and of the larger issue of today's young misfits becoming tomorrow's gangbangers.