Tampa port security cameras go unobserved

| 6/20/2006

In 2005, the Tampa Port Authority installed a $1.57 million security system featuring 200 closed-circuit cameras designed to closely monitor the port complex.

But The St. Petersburg Times reported that those cameras might not be all that closely monitored after all.

Peter Miller, security director for the port, told The Times that federal and state rules do not require the cameras to be monitored when the port is at the lowest maritime security alert level, called Marsec 1.

That means about 50 percent of the time, there's no one watching the cameras at all, according to The Times .

But Miller said the cameras are only part of the port's overall security program, and that port security officers and sheriff's deputies patrol the port around the clock.

“This is our backup,” Miller said, referring to the cameras.

The Times reported that other ports in Florida, including ports in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville, have officers monitoring camera systems 24 hours a day, every day.

The Port of Miami plans to institute a similar watch schedule when it takes over a new $10.7 million security system, The Times reported.