The Borough of Tamaqua is taking a giant leap forward in crime watch, with the help of U.S. Rep. Tim Holden and the John E. Morgan Foundation.
A $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which was obtained with Holden's help, plus an additional $167,000 contribution from the Morgan Foundation will go toward the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art camera system and command center.
"This is a new project," said Tamaqua Police Chief Dave Mattson. "No one else in the state is doing this to the degree that we're planning to do this."
Borough council President Micah Gursky explained that cameras will be placed along the Route 209 and 309 corridors, as well as at other strategic locations in the borough. He also noted that part of the package will include an automated license plate recognition program.
"This has the potential to have the police department become more self-sufficient," said Mattson. "It will help make our community safer. If a serious incident occurs, we'll have the ability to apprehend the offender. We'll have the ability to tell if a wanted felon is going through the town. We'll be able to monitor for traffic violations."
Mattson said that the police will now have the ability to monitor every vehicle that comes into or goes out of the borough.
Mattson also thanked the committee that worked to put the grant together, including Gursky, Councilman Ken Smulligan, Downtown Manager Linda Yulanavage, Tamaqua High School technology director Ken Dunkelberger, and Serge Chrush, Kathy Kunkel and Andrew Leibenguth.
Holden, who presented the borough with the $200,000 check, commended the committee for its work.
"It has been a pleasure and honor to work with you," he said. Holden explained that the grant was available through the U.S. Department of Justice and is a project that aids in security.
"Every year, we look at projects that have merit. We know everyone can use it, but this project already had the support from the Morgan Foundation and the borough," he said.
Mayor Christian Morrison said that it could be a while before the program is up and running, as it needs to be prepared and put out for bid.