City Council Adds to Newburgh’s Visual Surviellance System

Newburgh’s City Councilman Torrance Harvey recently pushed for three new surveillance cameras to be installed in high-crime areas throughout the city. The cameras were previously purchased through grant funding and the estimated cost to have them installed by Long Island A+ Technology and Security Solutions was approximately $43,000.

According to Harvey, implementation of the installation process was relatively simple given that the city already had the resources and the company to install them preselected by the state.

“It was just a matter of allocating the resources from that settled grant, technology companies and technologies to install them,” Harvey said.

Due to security reasons, the exact location of the new and existing cameras could not be revealed.

“They are being implemented strategically in areas defined as hot spots; areas where crime is most often done throughout the city,” Harvey said.

The process involved looking at the infrastructure of the system already in place. Most of the older cameras are analog and the new cameras are digitized and have higher resolution. According to Harvey, Newburgh will be looking to purchase and replace older cameras with more of these higher technologies going forward.

As warmer weather persists, it is statistically shown that there is a rise in violent crime. Last summer, Newburgh (nationally ranked in the top five for violent crime) had a number of unsolved murders and Harvey believes that the new cameras will be helpful in providing full descriptions of perpetrators and footage of the crimes being committed.

“There’s a catch phrase among young people, ‘snitches get stitches’ and it’s the culture in Newburgh, like it is in many other urban settings,” Harvey said. “When you talk to the police department, they don’t have a lot of leads, they don’t have a lot of people giving testimonies or statements. People are afraid to come forward.”

Harvey hopes that with the additional security of these new cameras, people will be encouraged to come forward.

Security cameras on the SUNY New Paltz campus were also switched from analog to digital a few years ago, according to University Police Chief David Dugatkin. Instead of footage being stored on VHS tapes, it can now be recorded onto a hard drive to hold years of footage.

The system is composed of several hundred cameras around campus linked to  a server that provides UPD with access to a live feed and recorded footage. There are also cameras on the newer of the 59 24/7 blue light phones throughout campus. These phones will dial University Police with the press of a single button and also allow for on-campus dialing.

According to Dugatkin, the system is fortunately not difficult to maintain.

“They’re all pretty solid state electronics and our telecommunications department on campus is responsible for maintaining the bluelights and the cameras and they do an outstanding job of doing so,” Dugatkin said.

A recent example of this system being put to use involves the breaking of gates on pedestrian walkways around campus.

“It seems as if there’s been a need to damage those and the cameras that are on those gates allow us to, rather quickly, identify exactly who did it,” Dugatkin said.

The cameras are also helpful in monitoring large crowds whether or not officers are also on the scene. According to Dugatkin, the system’s main function is to provide a feeling of security for pedestrians.

“It makes the pedestrians feel safer. We’re not acting as big brother, we’re not there to follow them and look at what they’re doing,” Dugatkin said. “We’re there mostly to use it after the fact if something occurs, but to also monitor things live for certain events so we’re there on the more proactive side.”