In place for only about a month as part of a demonstration project, a surveillance camera at the intersection of Main and Partition Streets has already helped solve a crime and helped police clear up a traffic jam. Installed by North Carolina-based J & M Security Solutions, the $24,000 camera setup is located on a utility pole outside the Exchange Hotel. From there, at the center of town, its field of view takes in almost the entire business district.
Speaking at Monday night’s Village Board meeting, Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told trustees that the camera helped the department find out how one of the Sittin’ Around Saugerties public art chairs was damaged.
About a week and a half ago, police discovered the back of one of the chairs missing and the rest of the chair badly damaged. The chair was located in front of Smith Hardware.
“I was really mad that this happened, because I knew they were valuable and had assigned patrols to keep an extra eye out to make sure they weren’t damaged,” Sinagra said of the chairs.
Working the case with patrolman Corey Tome, Sinagra saw that garbage cans had been placed close to the damaged chair. Tome said that maybe the large hydraulic arm that garbage trucks use to pick up the cans caused the damage.
The two returned to police headquarters and went to the videotape that had been recorded by the surveillance camera.
The Exchange sign partially blocked the camera from viewing the entire incident, Sinagra explained, “but we could see that there was a garbage truck there.”
Tome and Sinagra went in search of garbage trucks that were working in the village that day and found one. However, the driver told the police that he was not working Main St., although another driver was.
“We located the other driver, and he denied having caused the damage,” Sinagra said. “But when we told him we had video of his truck there, he confessed.”
The driver told police that the cans were close to a tree and when the arm came down to pick them up it hit the chair.
“He said that when he realized what happened, he panicked, and jumped out and threw the back of the chair into the back of the truck,” Sinagra said.
To help seal the case, Tome went to the dump where the garbage was taken and retrieved the chair back as evidence.
“The camera is working out great,” Sinagra said. “So far it’s been very beneficial.”
A second incident involved a large tractor-trailer that was making its way along Main St. and was having a difficult time turning onto Partition St. So difficult, in fact, that it had become stuck against a smaller box truck that was making its way up Partition St.
The resulting truck sandwich backed traffic up all down Partition St. Use of the camera enabled police to spot the problem, and respond to the scene to separate the two trucks and get traffic moving again.
When village trustees first began to talk about the possibility of getting cameras, they asked J & M for a demonstration project, and now that it has proven successful, Sinagra urged the board to invest in several of the cameras as part of next year’s budget.