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Surveillance cameras coming to midtown Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A community group is going the extra mile to make its neighborhood safer.

The Midtown Action Council recently secured a $15,000 grant to extend the city's surveillance camera network along Second Street from Pine Street to Forster Street, where Midtown unofficially begins.

"It's already a pretty safe place to live, but it helps people feel even safer," said Jonathan Hendrickson, president of the Midtown Action Council. "It helps the police...if there's some incident here. They can help track the person down."

Harrisburg police would have instant access to the camera's video in real-time, as it does for the cameras in downtown Harrisburg and other neighborhoods, to fight crime.

"The way of combating that is to actually engage the residents, the private sector, and instead of just complaining about things, trying to make a difference," John Traynor, a neighborhood resident and president of the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, said.

Although the group still needs to raise about $4,000 to cover the full cost of the project, it hopes to have the first camera installed at Second and Forster streets by October.

Deborah Hughes, a midtown resident since 1980, and her husband installed surveillance cameras on their property in 2015 after vandals slashed the tops of their convertibles, and are hoping new cameras make the community safer.

"With the increase in population and the change of population, we also have muggings and crime issues and same thing that any other neighborhood has, whether you're suburban or in the city," she said.

Future cameras would likely be installed in higher-traffic areas, but the group says it will collect public input if it can continue to raise money for additional cameras.

"We're constantly looking for how can we make our neighborhood even better, and how can we make it a place where people want to live, people want to come, people want to work here, and this was one of those ways," Hendrickson said.