Borough considering cameras in street lights

Naugatuck Information Technology Director Jim Kallipolites shows off a live video feed from a camera in downtown Naugatuck during the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting March 1. The borough is contemplating whether to invest in the cameras, which would go inside new street lights. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck Information Technology Director Jim Kallipolites shows off a live video feed from a camera in downtown Naugatuck during the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting March 1. The borough is contemplating whether to invest in the cameras, which would be installed inside new LED street lights. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Lights. Cameras. Surveillance.

A live streaming image of the firehouse and Maple Street was projected inside the meeting room in Town Hall for the Board of Mayor and Burgesses to watch March 1. The feed was coming from a camera that was mounted on the hood of a car in the Town Hall parking lot. The camera captured footage of people walking by on the sidewalks, driving by on the roads and, even once, someone peering directly into it.

The camera was placed there by the Massachusetts-based ESCO Energy Services Company as an example of the types of surveillance cameras that are available.

The borough is currently considering placing such cameras inside some street lights around town to help deter or solve crimes.

“We can put these in different areas of the town and the police department will have access to these cameras,” borough Information Technologies Director Jim Kallipolites said.

According to Kallipolites, the officers and dispatchers would be able to access the video on their tablets, phones or computers. They can download the information and use it in their investigations, he said.

“They may be another way for us to deter crime and acts of vandalism if we put up signs that say cameras in use,” Deputy Police Chief Joshua Bernegger said. “I think it will certainly be a benefit in terms of helping us solve crimes — we can see vehicles in the area, and people in the area, when a crime occurred.”

The borough is working with ESCO to place the cameras inside new LED street lights it is planning to purchase and install.

“These are normally 20 feet in the air. When we have the light focused the way it should be, it’s great. It’s like high definition,” Kallipolites said. “The LED light is a focused light and the camera head is behind the light.”

ESCO representative Jack Hanley said the cameras can also be equipped with microphones and speakers. If enough cameras are equipped with microphones, they can pick up and triangulate the location of a gunshot, Hanley said.

In addition, the cameras can be tilted, panned, and made to zoom in or zoom out, so that the officers watching the live feed can see the entire area, Hanley said. The officers would also be able to brighten or flash the lights to which the cameras are attached.

“So if someone is doing something they shouldn’t be, the police department can hit a switch and blink the light at them and scare them away,” Burgess Rocky Vitale said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess asked if the cameras were good enough to pick up license plates.

Hanley said the particular camera he was showing to the burgesses was not be able to do that, but there are higher-end cameras that make that possible.

Kallipolites said additional features are available for the cameras and lights, but the more features the more expensive they become.

Since officials didn’t have the exact specifications they desired for the cameras and the locations for them, no definite costs were available last week.

“We haven’t come up with what we feel is the desirable configuration. Right now we are exploring all options,” Kallipolites said.

A committee of elected officials, information technology experts and police is working together to determine where in town the lights would go.

Deputy Mayor Robert Neth said he believes the LED lights and the cameras will ultimately be approved. The committee, of which he is a member, is meeting in two weeks to see exactly where they want to put the cameras and what kind of LEDs they want to buy, he said.

He said the LEDs are projected to save Naugatuck between $150,000 and $250,000 a year.

The borough does not pay any up-front costs for the project, he said, but rather uses the savings to pay off the lights and cameras. That would take four to five years.

The Republican American contributed to this article.