Police & Fire

Mahopac to Install Traffic Surveillance Cameras

Putnam Count District Attorney Bob Tendy, left, and Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari explain the video surveillance camera project to the Town Board. Credits: Bob Dumas

MAHOPAC, N.Y.-A plan is in the works to install video surveillance cameras throughout the hamlets of Mahopac and Carmel that will help police and the district attorney’s office better fight crime.

Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari and Putnam County District Attorney Bob Tendy went before the Town Board at its Jan. 24 meeting to explain the technology and how the installations would be funded.

Cazzari said that the project would be rolled out in phases, with major hubs within the two hamlets getting priority. The first cameras would be placed at the intersections of Routes 6 and 6N in Mahopac and Routes 6 and 52 in the hamlet of Carmel. The estimated cost of that phase would be approximately $70,000, Cazzari said.

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Next on the list would be at Baldwin Place Road where it intersects with both Route 6 and Route 118; then at the intersection of Secor Road and Route 6N.

“It’s going to start in the two hamlets and will expand up Route 52 and down Route 6 toward CVS and go down to Baldwin Place,” Cazzari said. “We are going to start with the major hubs. Until we have $1.5 [million] to $2 million, we won’t have everything covered.”

The town will work with Fishkill-based Commercial Instrument & Alarm Systems Inc. on the project. The cameras will employ a software known as Plate Smart designed by Platesmart Technologies.

The cameras will capture license plates and compare them to a New York State database, the National Crime Information Center database and any specific plates the Carmel Police Department may be searching for. The technology employs very high-resolution cameras to view the front and rear of a vehicle and read the license plates. It creates a data file of the license plates and can compare it to the DMV database and others while looking for criminal activity. If a match is found, Carmel Police dispatch will be notified within seconds.

“We checked other systems, and this is a very good one,”  Tendy told the board. “It’s been used in other municipalities.”

Tendy said his office will put up $20,000 in asset-forfeiture money to help pay for the first phase of the project. Other money will likely come from state grants.

“Sen. Terrence Murphy is trying to get funding from the state,” Tendy said. “I don’t believe the funding has come through yet, but I believe he is trying to access up to $75,000 for this system.”

Cazzari said there are things the town can do to help ensure the grant money.

“If we show we are working with the county and we have our own funds to put in, that should help with the grant process,” he said. “It’s not just for us; the county and the state police will be able to access it. The technology will send us an alert, such as ‘the red pickup with the license plate 1-2-3 was just here.’ ”

“We have some major corridors coming through here and I think it would be a fantastic tool not just for [the Carmel] police but for our office, as well,” Tendy added.

Cazzari said that while the system doesn’t have artificial intelligence and facial recognition capabilities, it can learn and will track and piece things together.

“These are HD cameras and will be able to tell the color of the car, the make of the car and any damage on it,” he said. “There are endless possibilities, but you have to start somewhere and put the cameras up and the back end of it will keep evolving and getting better.”

Cazzari said the cameras are not meant to catch speeders, motorists who run red lights and other traffic-code violators.

“They are for catching people who have already committed a crime,” he said.

Councilman Jonathan Schneider said he was behind the project and wanted to see it cover as much of the town as quickly as possible.

“I think it’s spectacular,” he said. “I am glad to see we are doing this with the county. I think the faster we expand this and the more we invest in this the better the resources will be for our police department. It will keep Putnam County and Carmel one of the safest areas in the state.”

Tendy added that he was happy to use asset-forfeiture money to help fund the project.

“This is why we use asset-forfeiture money,” he said. “We use proceeds from crime to fight crime.”

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