Surveillance recordings from about a dozen Main Street businesses helped police determine how Donald Briggs died early Sunday morning, according to Police Chief Joseph Sinagra.
Speaking at Monday night’s Village Board meeting, Sinagra explained that because there were no witnesses to Briggs’ death, police didn’t know if it was a tragic accident or possibly something more. All they knew was that Briggs was found unresponsive during the early morning hours on Sunday.
However, by going to a number of businesses along Main Street and asking for copies of recordings from their surveillance cameras, police were able to determine that Briggs fell to his death and that it was accidental.
It would be those types of cases, and matters involving crimes that Sinagra believes village-owned surveillance cameras placed along Main and Partition Streets could help with.
Joining Sinagra in presenting a formal proposal to the Village Board for purchase of surveillance cameras was 1993 Saugerties High School graduate and North Carolina-based J&M Security Systems president Jason Nagy.
To demonstrate the value of surveillance cameras, Nagy agreed to test drive the system. In the coming weeks, J&M will be installing the cameras in the Main and Partition Streets area as a demonstration. He did not say how long such a trial program would last.
The cost of three cameras, a server that would be located at police headquarters, and wireless radio equipment would be $24,000, or $8,000 each. When the village first looked at installing cameras several years ago, the cost was approximately $65,000.
“The cost of technology has come down over the years,” Nagy said. “And because this system is wireless, the cameras can be moved where they are needed.”
Sinagra has suggested a three-camera system because, he says, there are three hot spots in the downtown portion of the village; at the intersection of Main and Partition Streets, the intersection of Main and Market Streets, and in the area of Partition and Russell Streets where there is a hump in the road the Main and Partition camera would not see over. This would provide coverage for lower Partition Street down to the Diamond Mills Inn.
The cameras can tilt, zoom, pan and provide 360 degrees of coverage, Sinagra said.
“It’s like having a cop on the corner 24/7,” Nagy said. Pictures from the cameras would be monitored at the police station, but could also be monitored from the mobile terminals in police cars and by smart phones and iPads.
The cameras are able to pick up full-color video in low light and switch to black and white at night. The package also includes facial and vehicle recognition software.
“With a demo we would be able to take input from the public on this,” said Mayor William Murphy. He said the village has received some comments from the public about concerns for privacy since it was first announced last month.
“And we want to keep moving forward on this,” Murphy added.
Trustee Donald Hackett said the board would have to make sure it had enough money for the system.
“I want to make sure all the needs of the community are met,” Hackett said.
Sinagra said that maybe village businesses or members of the Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce could step up and help pay for the system. He noted that several years ago, Stewart’s Shops in Saratoga Spa paid for a system for that town’s police department, and maybe the same thing can be done here.
“We want to work collaboratively with businesses and I would love to see them step up and help out with this,” Sinagra said.