BY ADAM ATKINSON North Country This Week POTSDAM — The village is considering some major technology upgrades for its police department, including a new dispatch system, new body cameras and video …
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
POTSDAM — The village is considering some major technology upgrades for its police department, including a new dispatch system, new body cameras and video surveillance at traffic intersections.
The village board discussed needs, costs and timeline with Police Chief Mark Murray at their meeting Jan. 3.
Trustee Alexandra Jacobs Wilke said a dispatch system upgrade was one of the “big ticket items” on the village’s list of uses for American Rescue Plan Act money the village received.
Village Planner Fred Hanss confirmed that the cost estimate last summer was around $330,000 for a new dispatch system. Installation would involve a few different contractors and include gutting the floor and rewiring, according to Murray.
Village Mayor Ron Tischler asked Murray if the equipment was readily available.
“Right now I’ve had a radio on order since October,” Murray said. “Microchips, or some components, are in short supply. There would be an issue if you wanted to do it. We would need some lead time.”
“I think if you started in the spring you would be into the early winter, late fall or early winter,” said Murray. The work could mean the dispatch operation would be moved temporarily while the project was underway, he said.
“The infrastructure is 23 years old since it was installed and a lot of the components were manufactured in the late 90s, so there is some work to be done,” Murray said.
Jacobs Wilke asked for Murray’s thoughts on expanding a recommendation for security cameras in Ives Park to other areas of the village.
“My biggest reason, or proposal, for that would be for traffic accidents, collisions. This last quarter from October to December we doubled our motor vehicle accidents from the previous quarter, so it's been an issue,” Murray said.
“Witnesses are good but a traffic camera for that reason would be helpful,” he said. “If a pedestrian gets hit, you have video footage. It makes investigation a lot easier.”
“We have body cameras already, so we live in a society where everywhere you go your expectation of privacy is pretty minimal in my opinion,” Murray said.
Market and Elm streets, Sandstone and Market and Maple and Market streets are some of the intersections Murray suggested for the cameras.
The chief said the state Department of Transportation has cameras at intersections already but that they are live view only and don’t record a constant video feed.
The mayor said the cost of the cameras would not be very expensive. Murray said the biggest issue would be coordinating with the state DOT to be able to mount the cameras on their poles at the intersections.
Wilke asked if the data security policy would be the same as the department’s policy for body camera footage and how data retention would be handled.
Murray said the current body camera vendor for the department has been bought out by Motorola. Motorola’s service involves a recurrent cost or fee for the service. “So instead of us having our own server, (where) we retain our own data on our own server, it’s in the cloud and you pay a monthly fee, which is substantial,” Murray said.
“SUNY PD, state police, I got their numbers and I was astonished at how much it cost,” he said.
Murray said he budgeted for that cost for this year, but he will have to make a choice about what type of system the department will use moving forward. Motorola has told the department they will be discontinuing the department’s current body cameras and Potsdam PD will have to go with newer equipment or with a different provider.
“So we have a lot of technology in relation to law enforcement and we need to plan,” said Jacobs Wilke.
Murray said the cost of video security equipment up front is not a lot, but the recurring costs for data storage and retention on the cloud will add up.