BETHLEHEM — U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) today joined Bethlehem Police Commissioner Randall Miller and numerous police chiefs from the Lehigh Valley’s 44 police departments to unveil newly installed in-car, digital video camera systems, paid for through federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding.

Congressman Dent, along with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, secured $1,262,655 for the project, which cost a total $2.3 million. The new equipment was installed last week; police cars from a dozen municipalities displayed the new equipment on Bethlehem’s City Hall Plaza.

These cameras will improve enforcement, monitoring, and oversight, as well as enhance officer safety.

“I am delighted to announce the purchase of In-Car Digital video units for all 44 municipal police departments in Lehigh and Northampton Counties,” Commissioner Miller said. “This funding means that police departments in the valley will be equipped with the latest technology in the field of in-car digital video.”

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin, and Ari Mittleman, U.S. Senator Robert Casey’s regional representative, also spoke at the presentation.

Commissioner Miller noted he had joined with the police chiefs of Allentown and Easton to pursue this project more than three years ago. It became a region-wide project for all police departments in the Lehigh Valley.

“From my perspective, this project meets goals at both the federal and the local level,” Congressman Dent said. “As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I have recognized that ground-level intelligence is the front line in our efforts to prevent terrorists from doing harm in this country. It is also in furtherance of ongoing national efforts to establish communications interoperability among law enforcement and other first responders.

“This initiative moves forward the continued efforts by our police and first responders to use a regional approach to law enforcement. We all know this area is growing; with that growth have come some great benefits, but also serious challenges. We have seen an increase in activity by violent gangs and other criminal enterprises, and we know these organizations do not respect or remain confined within municipal boundaries.”

Police Departments receiving the new equipment include:

Alburtis, Allentown, Bangor, Berks-Lehigh Regional, City of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Bushkill Township, Catasauqua, Colonial Regional, Coopersburg, Coplay, East Bangor, Easton, Emmaus, Forks Township, Fountain Hill, Freemansburg, Hellertown, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, Lehigh Township, Lower Milford, Lower Saucon, Macungie, Moore Township, North Catasauqua, Nazareth, Northampton, Palmer Township, Pen Argyl, Plainfield Township, Portland, Roseto, Salisbury, Slatington, South Whitehall, Stockertown, Tatamy, Upper Nazareth Township, Upper Saucon Township, Walnutport, Washington Township, Wilson Borough, and Wind Gap.

Congressman Dent noted that the regional approach to purchasing the equipment presented a compelling justification for the allocation of federal funds. Commissioner Miller said that many of the smaller departments may not have been able to afford such equipment without the regional effort.

“In much the same way that we have established the Route 222 Corridor anti-gang initiative with the Attorney General’s office, this video system installation among 44 departments represents the growing positive trend of cooperation among the various levels of law enforcement that keep us safe,” Congressman Dent said.