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Hidden Camera in Police Station Stuns Chief

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

September 17, 2010

The rumor going around Darby Borough is that a cop recently discovered an unauthorized surveillance camera inside the police station – a camera that not even the chief knew was there.

It’s true.

The camera had been installed in the station on Summit Street unbeknownst to most Darby cops, including Chief Bob Smythe, the chief said. The mayor, council president and chairman of the council’s public-safety committee also were unaware, they said yesterday.

“I was pissed off when I heard about it,” said Smythe, who learned of the camera this month and ordered it disconnected. “Nothing like that should be going on without me knowing about it.”

This is a sensitive topic in Delaware County. Last year, two former Folcroft officials did jail time on felony convictions stemming from the 2004 discovery of a covert surveillance system that taped a female cop undressing inside Folcroft’s police station.

Darby’s situation doesn’t appear to involve criminal wrongdoing, the police chief said.

Smythe said yesterday that Lt. Darrell Guy had approved the installation of the camera in the police clerk’s office after complaints that the clerk was being rude to the public. The camera, Smythe said, was a misguided attempt to determine “who was right and who was wrong” in those disputes.

Guy apparently never told Smythe or the council about the camera, which was so inconspicuous that “most people” in the department didn’t realize it was there, Smythe said.

Guy said last night that the camera “wasn’t operational,” but declined to comment further.

“The whole thing was dumb,” Smythe said, sounding exasperated by the incident.

Smythe said the camera was installed for free by the borough’s off-site computer expert and was set up to transmit footage to a password-protected Internet address, but, “to my knowledge, as of this moment, nothing was recorded.”

Darby officials were alarmed yesterday when contacted by the Daily News.

“What is it? A camera you said? I don’t know anything about it, but I’d like to,” said Council President Janice Davis.

“Who and what? A camera in the police station? I don’t know anything about it,” said Councilman Herb Blackson, chairman of the public-safety committee.

“Let me look into this,” Mayor Helen Thomas said.

In 2006, former Councilman Joseph Zito and Republican power broker Anthony Truscello – the self-described “Wizard of Folcroft” – were convicted of tampering with public records after they installed hidden cameras inside the Folcroft police station. Prosecutors alleged that they prepared false bills to hide the cost of the surveillance equipment.

Smythe bristled at any comparison to that scandal, two towns over from Darby.

“Do I think someone maliciously did something? No,” he said.

Councilwoman Edna Stockley, who has clashed with Smythe and the ruling council members, said she hopes to get more information at tonight’s council meeting.

“Nobody knows how it got there? Very mysterious,” Stockley said of her fellow council members. “They knew about it. I don’t care what they say.”

  • White_shirt_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    The chief should have been apprised. The Lt. should receive at minimal a good dressing down and a letter of warning in his personnel jacket. I would also shorten the string on the Lt.

  • Memorialbadge_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    When our facility decided to upgrade our video system, one of the upgrades was to put a camera in my work area which basically does nothing but to watch me. At first I was ticked off. Then I thought, well if I am not doing anything wrong, then I have nothing to hid. Now its like its not even there.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Hope you like being a LT for the rest of your career, that is if you don't get bumped back to Sgt. Did he really think a video with no audio show who was rude to who? Hope we get to hear the whole story when it comes out.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Only the guilty need be worried !! LOL

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    If the Chief didnt know about it, yet the Lt. did, I dont think he will be seeing promotion anytime soon.

  • Dsc00099_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    @ Stevemaynard... Warrants to place a camera in a public place? Hidden cameras are very useful and only require a warrant when you are in an area protected by the 4th Ammendment. A public area in fair game for any and all types of recording devices. Some states may require a sign that indicates recording is in progress, but most do not. Thats like saying you must inform a motorist on a traffic stop that what they are saying and doing is being recorded... thats an investigation... would we have to get a warrant for every traffic stop in public places??? I think not.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago

    There is no expectation of privacy in a public facility.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    This seems to be a "I know nothing." response. Someone paid for the camera and installation.

  • My_kids_027_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    If it was being used to investigate complaints thats a good idea, but next time you might want to let the chief know first.

  • Me_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Unless there is an authorized investigation with approved warrants, there shouldn’t be hidden cameras even in public locations. In public locations there should be signs noting that the area is under surveillance.

  • 120404-131505_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    taht was for making movies to make revenue whaaa whhaaa whaha hwahahh out back right now

  • Canada-flag_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    If it was in a public place so be it......there are cameras in all kinds of public places and we should always assume we are being recorded anytime at work (while not in the privacy of our "barn") off course.

  • Badge__hat_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Granted the Police Chief should have approved it first, but if the camera was trained on a public reception area within the police station, serving a legitimate purpose, then I don't see what the problem is. Surveillance cameras are very common in public buildings everywhere. We have several in our administration building. Big deal.

  • Ribbon_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Now Im looking around 25/8!

    As if 24/7 wasnt enough!?!?

  • Tbl_max50


    almost 4 years ago


    Hmmm... Glad I don't work there!

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