Port Jefferson hooks up cameras to Suffolk County police

Port Jefferson hooks up cameras to Suffolk County police

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County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant listen to SCPD Chief of Department Stuart Cameron on the new Real Time Crime Center. Photo from Kevin Wood

PJ first village to connect with Real Time Crime Center

Suffolk County Police will be keeping tabs on Port Jefferson village in a new way.

Village of Port Jefferson officials announced that it’s become the first village on Long Island to connect through videography with the Suffolk County’s new Real Time Crime Center. This allows the police to tap into the eight existing village security cameras positioned in places like the train station and the three-way intersection at West Broadway and Main Street.

Connections to the RTCC were made April 15 after piloting the program for a few months with one of the cameras in upper Port Jeff, according to village parking administrator Kevin Wood. He said most of the cameras help cover parking lots and high-traffic streets within the village.

“Having strategically placed high-definition cameras recording in public places 24/7 for the village to look back on for accidents or crime events is valuable,” Wood said in an email. “Having the SCPD also receiving these same video feeds in real time to their brand new RTCC adds an extra layer of security and response for the residents and visitors of Port Jefferson village. I certainly feel this is positive and a deterrent for negative activity.”

“It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

— Margot Garant

The RTCC was introduced in March this year and was funded with both county capital and grant funds. The county announced the finished crime center with the intent of cracking down on crime in the Island’s downtown locations. Earlier this month village officials were invited to the RTCC, located in Yaphank, to view the new system with County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.

Village Mayor Margot Garant said it would be especially effective in tracking shoplifting crimes in the village, with the cameras able to identify vehicle’s license plates or people as they move in front of village shops. She said the cameras have recently aided in catching a shoplifter who stole from The East End Shirt Company.

“Some people ask, ‘Why is there a police helicopter going around Port,” Garant said. “It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

The village also has access to these cameras, and the code enforcement bureau has access via a single screen in their offices.

Police would have the ability to control individual cameras, which she said act on swivels to cover more area. Whether or not this means more surveillance for village residents and visitors, Garant said police wouldn’t be looking at each camera every second of every day.

“We’re using these tools to keep crime out of here, not spy on people,” she said. “This is what has to be done.”