Naugatuck to test camera system in Linden Park

NAUGATUCK, CT — Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete Hess speaks at a news conference as Deputy Chief C. Colin McAllister listens in April 2021 at the Naugatuck Police Department. Republican-American

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are launching a pilot program that uses cameras to help thwart litter offenders.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses unanimously approved at its Tuesday meeting to enter into an agreement with Utility Communications, Inc., of Hamden in the amount of $6,860 for an axis movable camera system. Officials plan to install the camera at Linden Park.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess suggested funds for the camera system would come out of the Town Clerk’s fund. There is a roughly $30,000 in the account, he said.

Linden Park is one of about eight hot spots for littering and dumping. Part of this pilot program stems from residents complaining, according to Burgess Rocky Vitale, chairman of the borough’s littering committee.

Interim Police Chief C. Colin McAllister said police have been working in partnership with the borough’s litter committee for about 18 months to try to develop solutions for areas that have consistent littering problems.

“We should have coverage to not only cover the park but also the entrance,” McAllister said. “We think it will serve as a deterrent.”

The camera will have internet access for streaming and won’t be hard-wired into anything at the park. The police department has a large amount of storage in its servers to retain any footage, according to McAllister.

The camera will be able to move and read license plates to catch littering offenders. The videos would be stored for 30 for officers to go back and look if they find out something has happened, according to Vitale.

“If there was an incident, we would be able to go back and pull it up but also we have the dispatch center and this would be able to feed into the dispatch center so we would have also live coverage of it if we see any sort of suspicious activity,” McAllister said.

The police department is trying to use technology to help address crime and find solutions for problems it has had in the past couple months, McAllister added.

N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess, Naugatuck mayor. Contributed

Vitale said this pilot program complements police crime control efforts, helping deter littering and alleviating time lost from Department of Public Works spent cleaning up litter.

“Let’s just see if it works before we make it a big investment into this,” Vitale said. “So if it works and if it does what we think it’s going to do, we’ll be looking to add some more in strategic areas around the borough.”

Burgess Meghan Smith asked whether the cameras would scan someone’s license plates to see if taxes are paid, when a person is going to the park to play basketball. McAllister said that will not be the purpose of the camera system.

Smith said the camera will be beneficial to free up officers.

“Say you have someone just stationed down there, just kind of looking around for crime versus this will kind of allow the officer to be utilized elsewhere in the community because you guys have this camera out there that you can refer back to,” Smith said.

“These technology solutions are much cheaper than adding additional officers,” McAllister said. “If you were to put an officer on overtime in these certain locations for the cost of a week, it would be far more than these cameras.”

Vitale said officials need to make sure the camera works to the borough’s needs before spending additional funds.

Burgess Charles Marenghi said if the pilot program works, it’s something officials definitely want to expand in other areas.

“I love the concept that this technology is a force multiplier to help our police not be bogged down with little things like tracking down litter when they could focus on the larger scale job where we need their experience elsewhere,” Marenghi said.

Vitale said this would also help with graffiti, which Hess noted was another problem.

“Down the road, we already have that infrastructure in place to intake additional cameras and support them,” McAllister said.