Video cameras on school property monitored by police could help catch vandals and deter future crimes, school board President George Heidcamp suggests, but a fellow trustee isn’t so sure the school should be increasing police involvement.
Surveillance cameras have been an issue in Saugerties for several months, ever since the village decided to install several in the business district.
Heidcamp, a retired police officer, recently met with police chief Joe Sinagra (lately of the town of Ulster police), and both agreed cameras would be a good idea.
“I am definitely in favor of putting cameras outside the schools,” said Sinagra. “As far as cameras inside the schools, I would want some conversation with the community first.”
Indeed, the consensus seemed to be that while having a few cameras in the parking lot would probably not be a problem, cameras in other locations would be a more sensitive matter.
Board member Teresa Bach-Tucker questions if increasing the involvement of local police was the right move. “There’s a point for me that young people learn from their mistakes, and I think that sometimes they have to have an opportunity to make some mistakes in order to learn from them without having a criminal record. I think our administration team should be handling those situations and I have a little bit of mixed feelings about how much authority I want to give the government over the school district.”
Heidcamp said the district is looking into the possibility of getting grant money. (There were no specific cost estimates given at the meeting, but for reference, the village’s three-camera system will cost $24,000.)
The proposal is at this point not a done deal. The administration and Heidcamp discussed turning the suggestion over to the school’s safety committee for further study and recommendations, Heidcamp said.