New Anne Arundel exec discovers elaborate camera system

Watchman reported to John Leopold

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - She can laugh and appear care-free in addressing seniors at a center in Edgewater, but when Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman first learned of an elaborate system of cameras at Arundel Center, she was all business.

"I stepped out of my car in the parking lot one morning and someone came out to greet me and the gentleman who came out to greet me seemed to be aware of my arrival, which I found a bit unusual," said Neuman.
    
That man was William Hyers who spent 33 years as a detective in the county, but in recent years had personally monitored more than 500 cameras at county headquarters, its Heritage Complex and various police stations.

He had watched her pull into the lot.
    
Reached by telephone, he told us the cameras, purchased with federal grant money, were solely for security and to cut down on thefts in the various buildings, but in light of the salacious allegations surrounding the county executive's predecessor, John Leopold, she wasn't taking any chances.
 
"The locks were changed immediately.  So that day, the day of the termination, which was my first full day on the job which was last Monday, within hours the locks were changed and it was turned over to law  enforcement officials for investigation."
    
While the contractor didn't report directly to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, it paid his salary.
 
"There was a contractor in place (who) worked out of the Arundel Center, sort of a liaison if you will, who we could utilize if we needed for law enforcement purposes to access footage from specific cameras if needed," said a department spokesman, Justin Mulcahy.
    
But in a leadership change over  born out of scandal, the new county executive wants a clear picture of how the cameras have been used.
 
"They were monitored by an individual on contract reporting directly to the county executive," said Neuman, "Elected officials, senior county officials had to knowledge of this camera system.  That's unconventional and that's uncomfortable so we need to make sure that they're being used properly."

Thus far, the county executive says there is no evidence the cameras recorded any audio.

In addition to the more than 500 cameras in question, there are 400 more used at the courts and the prisons that are monitored by actual law enforcers.

 

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