Security Camera Network Planned; Baltimore Port Safety at Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Redding Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Baltimore and Maryland homeland security authorities say they will have a 24-hour network of surveillance cameras operating this summer.

"The idea is that this is the first phase of building a backbone that will tie together different resources," said Dennis R. Schrader, director of homeland security for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

Mr. Schrader said the March 11 train bombings in Madrid reinforced to officials the fact that Baltimore has one of the nation's major ports so it should be protected by one of the boldest surveillance initiatives in the country.

"We have to find creative ways to protect these critical assets," Mr. Schrader said. "The fact of the matter is that we need regional cooperation in the war on terror."

The city will be the first to enact a regional network that will eventually include Anne Arundel and Howard counties, and Baltimore County, Md., Carroll County, Md., and Harford County, Md.The network of 20 to 30 cameras also would be able to connect with the state's system of closed-circuit cameras monitoring highways.

Elliot Schlanger, chief information officer for Baltimore, said the network also could be linked to closed-circuit television systems at the University of Maryland, the Downtown Partnership, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and other private institutions.

The cameras will be able to transmit images to helicopters and eventually to police cruisers. Mr. Schlanger said they also will have biometric- and radiation-sensor capabilities and the capacity for face and license plate recognition.

"Our initial pilot project is to visually monitor the region's critical infrastructure and assets," he said. …