Schenectady County

Surveillance cameras to be added in Bellevue

Schenectady County will install surveillance cameras in the Bellevue neighborhood and at two downtow

Schenectady County will install surveillance cameras in the Bellevue neighborhood and at two downtown parking sites next year, using $90,000 seized in drug raids by the Sheriff’s Department’s road patrol.

The intent is to deter crime in a community with an already low crime rate and eventually expand the camera system into the townships and the rest of the city, said Sheriff Dominic Dagostino.

“Bellevue is a good neighborhood in the city. This is a proactive approach that we feel is warranted,” he said Monday at a news conference in City Hall to announce the initiative.

Between 12 and 15 cameras will be installed in Bellevue and inside the downtown parking garage and at the parking lot behind Proctors, expanding a surveillance system that already encompasses the Mont Pleasant and Hamilton Hill neighborhoods, all of Central State Street to the crosstown arterial, the Eastern Avenue corridor, the North side of the city up Foster and Van Vranken avenues, the Union College area and downtown.

Cameras are also installed in other parking lots owned by the Metroplex Development Authority.

Metroplex owns the parking garage, which is used by patrons of Proctors and other downtown visitors.

Dagostino said the county will consult with the Bellevue Preservation Association and Bellevue neighborhood watch groups on where to site the cameras.

John Polimeni, a founding member of the preservation association, said the group has sought cameras for the last year. “Our neighborhood has been a good neighborhood and we want to squelch problems before they get worse,” he said. “I think the cameras will be a great deterrent to crime.”

Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy said expansion of the camera system into Bellevue is part of an effort to “get ahead of the curve” on crime. “We have cameras in high-crime areas. Now we are moving into the Bellevue neighborhood and are looking to complete the footprint in Mont Pleasant and to encompass side streets off State Street and Albany Street. We want to create a deterrence so that crime does not go there,” he said.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney launched the camera program in 2004, using grants from Operation IMPACT — a state initiative to control crime in the 17 counties that account for 80 percent of all crime in the state outside of New York City.

Carney said the Sheriff Department’s initiative is appreciated at a time when the county is seeking to expand and upgrade the system. He said his office is working on replacing the first-generation cameras by obtaining grants from various sources.

This will make the entire system more efficient, he said.

The surveillance system has slightly more than 100 cameras and has played a role in deterring crime and providing evidence used to convict people, said Assistant Police Chief Brian Kilcullen. Police monitor the cameras.

Dagostino said the $90,000 is coming from $600,000 in asset forfeiture funds obtained this year through the road patrol’s efforts with the Drug Enforcement Task Force. He said the remaining funds will be used for equipment and other law enforcement efforts in his office.

The city last week announced it would use $37,000 in drug seizure money to purchase 20 Taser electric stun guns for police. Kilcullen said the city has collected approximately $200,000 this year through the federal program, separate from the funds obtained by the Sheriff’s Department.

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