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Massena to install surveillance cameras this summer

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MASSENA — Seven surveillance cameras will be installed at village parks and intersections later this summer, according to Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.

The cameras will assist the department in deterring criminal activity, recording evidence, increasing conviction rates and improving village safety, Mr. Currier said.

The department is funding the cameras through a grant secured through the office of Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

Five of the cameras will be placed at intersections and two at parks by the end of July, Mr. Currier said. He declined to comment on their specific placement.

“The use of cameras is not a new tactic in law enforcement as they have been used for years to deter criminal activity, monitor areas and document criminal activity,” Mr. Currier said in an email. “Locally, in the past we have utilized cameras from ATM machines, banks and private businesses to piece together evidence to solve a homicide, robberies, and burglaries.”

Surveillance cameras and other technology have allowed law enforcement to reduce crime rates across the country over the last 15 years, Mr. Currier said.

“Criminals are using technology at increasing rates and for law enforcement to keep up we must utilize every tool at our disposal,” he said.

The village’s effort is unrelated to the dozen cameras that appeared on utility poles throughout the north country in March with little public notice. Those cameras were funded through a $1.9 million grant from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The cameras’ images are stored in a database in Franklin County, and District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said any law enforcement agency can access the photographs online. Although the cameras’ purpose is to link smuggling cases to the north country, Mr. Champagne credits them with solving two burglaries.

The lack of notice about those cameras sparked some privacy concerns, but Mr. Currier said the village’s effort will not be invading anyone’s privacy.

“I fully recognize that people have privacy concerns. The reality is we will be monitoring and recording public areas where there is no expectation of privacy. These will not be used to invade someone’s privacy or violate Fourth Amendment rights,” Mr. Currier said.

“Because cameras are used in public places, the Supreme Court has ruled this is an observation in plain view and does not constitute a search, much less an unreasonable one.”

The cameras’ placement comes as vandalism and other public safety issues continue to plague Massena. Earlier this week, Recreation Superintendent Richard A. Boprey said vandals had spread an inch and a half of loose stones across the Springs Park bandshell, which also stank of urine. Vandals also have struck the Creative Playground, Massena Town Beach and Alcoa Field tennis courts.

Mr. Currier said he hopes the cameras will prevent some of these types of occurrences.

“We have had well-documented issues at some of our parks, such as criminal mischief, drug activity and other juvenile issues like intimidation,” Mr. Currier said. “Installing cameras in these locations will allow our dispatchers to monitor that area live and in cases where damage is done to the park, we can go back and review the footage and hopefully hold the offender responsible.”

Mayor James F. Hidy said the cameras were part of a larger effort to deter crime, arrest vandals and improve Massena’s quality of life.

“We’re going to take every measure possible to start surveillance,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s just a matter of time before you’re caught and you will pay dearly.”

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