By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Street security cameras are being installed this spring in the city of Amsterdam and officials are hoping it will help knock down crime incidents within city boundaries.
During the summer months of 2012, the local World Peace and Health Organization donated about 20 cameras to the Amsterdam Police Department to aid in their coverage of city streets.
Last week, the first two cameras were installed, at the Five Corners location in the city.
First Ward Alderman Joseph Isabel, who has been instrumental in the process, said the only thing they are waiting on is getting a disk to change the software from Chinese to English.
"This is our test installation. We're going to put that (the correct software) in and then put the monitor down in the police station and see how it goes," he said. "Once we get that working satisfactorily, I don't think it will be a big problem."
Amsterdam Police Chief Gregory Culick said they are working to get quotes and test-runs from two different Internet providers, but from what he is seeing, it's looking like going with an Internet provider could cost the department -- at maximum -- $43,000 over the next three years.
Culick said they are alternatively looking into using wireless signals, which would not create any added cost for the department.
"Ideally if we could do this wirelessly and just network this back through a series of antennas back here to the station and not have to pay the monthly fee, I think that will be the only way that we can sustain this," Culick explained.
Aside from the set that is already up in the Five Corners area, the chief said another set will be going up in that area as each of the shops in that immediate area have been burglarized or robbed at one point or another.
"That whole area out there is definitely a hot bed so it would make the most sense that that be our first priority," he said.
The department will move to putting some up on upper Market Street, and Isabel is hoping some get placed on Locust Avenue.
And once all of the logistics are figured out, Culick said he knows it's going to be "a super effective tool for us."
"The kid that's going in to do a robbery or burglary really isn't going to be thinking about the cameras, and once he passes those, he, or she, is going to run past another series. ... You can't become invisible after you do one of these crimes," he said.
Isabel said that the cameras will likely help with the efficiency of the department overall.
"We want to try and get more surveillance in the city, so if we get these working well, I think we will expand on this project which should save on a lot of police time," Isabel said.
Forty-eight hours of continuous footage will be recorded until the loop starts over, and officers will have the ability to access live feeds from the cameras on their smartphones and hopefully catch criminals on the run, Culick said.
Down the line, the chief said if they find these working, they will someday invest in more advanced cameras and move the ones they have now to added locations in the city.
"It's a little big brotherish, but that's the way of the world now. Everything's going to this," he said.
The chief has had concerns voiced to him about telling the public where the cameras will be located, but he says it's a good thing.
"Maybe it will make them think twice," he said. "I want the public to know that they are out there, let the businesses and citizens know that were trying to do another thing for an added level of protection."