Philadelphia City Council held a committee hearing Monday on the city's surveillance-camera program, which has been plagued by technical problems and has been criticized by Council members and the city controller.
Officials testified Monday representing SEPTA, the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and the School District of Philadelphia - all large institutions that operate their own cameras to fight crime. But no one from the Nutter administration spoke.
Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr. seemed untroubled by the absence, saying "we'll see them in budget" hearings this spring.
Michael Resnick, the city's director of public safety, was unavailable to testify Monday because he was attending an event on gun violence at Girard College with Mayor Nutter and Vice President Biden.
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison also would have been a candidate to speak, but he was ill.
Jones was part of a delegation led by Council President Darrell L. Clarke that traveled to Baltimore last month to tour that city's vaunted surveillance-camera system.
Baltimore operates more than 600 high-quality cameras, integrated with an intelligence operation that prioritizes hot spots and times to watch.
In Philadelphia, Controller Alan Butkovitz released an audit last summer that said less than half of the city's 200 cameras were working. Butkovitz said a new audit would be completed in March or April.
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, said 155 cameras were working now, and the Police Department has a program to use cameras from participating businesses and homes in criminal investigations.
Jones, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, which took Monday's testimony, said the city has a "first-class command center," and he was heartened by the number of cameras the other institutions operated.
SEPTA has more than 12,000 cameras on subway cars, transit stations, buses, rail cars, and trolleys. All cameras at stations already are linked directly with city police, and video retrieved from vehicles also gets shared.
"Our upside potential, I think we found out, is far greater than Baltimore," Jones said. "Finally, we may all be talking about how we can integrate all that."