The rumor going around Darby Borough is that a cop recently discovered an unauthorized surveillance camera inside the police station – a camera that not even the chief knew was there.

It’s true.

The camera had been installed in the station on Summit Street unbeknownst to most Darby cops, including Chief Bob Smythe, the chief said. The mayor, council president and chairman of the council’s public-safety committee also were unaware, they said yesterday.

“I was pissed off when I heard about it,” said Smythe, who learned of the camera this month and ordered it disconnected. “Nothing like that should be going on without me knowing about it.”

This is a sensitive topic in Delaware County. Last year, two former Folcroft officials did jail time on felony convictions stemming from the 2004 discovery of a covert surveillance system that taped a female cop undressing inside Folcroft’s police station.

Darby’s situation doesn’t appear to involve criminal wrongdoing, the police chief said.

Smythe said yesterday that Lt. Darrell Guy had approved the installation of the camera in the police clerk’s office after complaints that the clerk was being rude to the public. The camera, Smythe said, was a misguided attempt to determine “who was right and who was wrong” in those disputes.

Guy apparently never told Smythe or the council about the camera, which was so inconspicuous that “most people” in the department didn’t realize it was there, Smythe said.

Guy said last night that the camera “wasn’t operational,” but declined to comment further.

“The whole thing was dumb,” Smythe said, sounding exasperated by the incident.

Smythe said the camera was installed for free by the borough’s off-site computer expert and was set up to transmit footage to a password-protected Internet address, but, “to my knowledge, as of this moment, nothing was recorded.”

Source: William Bender for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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