Law & Justice

Somers Debates Use of Cameras to Catch Lawbreakers

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A surveillance image appearing to show a truck illegally dumping debris in a wooded area. Somers officials are considering a measure like Yorktown's that would aid in prosecuting such violations. Credits: File
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SOMERS, N.Y.-Somers will call on the collective wisdom of its residents this spring for help in deploying cameras as an arm of town-code enforcement.

Town officials have been considering how to use caught-in-the-act photography to curb, at a minimum, illegal dumping on roadsides and other public property. But more questions than answers have surfaced in recent discussions. So, the Town Board agreed last week to hold a public hearing in April on a proposed local law that would turn the camera’s eye on lawbreakers.

Though Somers’ proposed ordinance is modeled on a statute in Yorktown, its broad contours remained unsettled at last week’s Town Board meeting. Among the major questions to be decided—either in a draft local law or at the public hearing—are these:

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• Can actionable photos be taken only by town-owned cameras or would a private citizen’s cell phone, let’s say, also suffice? Yorktown’s pioneering Recorded Images Violations statute permits both.

• Should photos document only illegal dumping or can they serve as proof in a wider range of infractions? Yorktown’s law discusses littering in detail but notes in a single sentence that authorities may also act on “violations of any other applicable rules, regulations, statutes, or laws.”

• To read more from this story in the newspaper, please request a FREE subscription to The Somers Record by clicking on the following link: http://www.halstonmedia.com/requestors/sr_requestor.pdf

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