GLOVERSVILLE - The city Police Department will upgrade the camera system throughout the city using $21,000 given to the department by the federal government.
Police Chief Donald VanDeusen spoke to the Common Council this week about the camera upgrades and other endeavors he would like to pursue if granted permission by the council, including Tasers and lighting systems for duty weapons.
He said the Homeland Security funds - administered by the Fulton County Fire Coordinator - would cover the expense to install a new computer server and operating system at the Police Department. He also said there is enough money for an additional four or five cameras that will be installed in new locations throughout the city. Some of those locations include: the Farmers Market Pavilion, the intersections of North Main Street and Fifth Avenue, East Fulton Street and Market Street and East Fulton and Fremont Street.
"They are locations where we have had blind spots in the past and we just wanted to sure up our line of sight in the busiest areas," VanDeusen said.
He said the new cameras will have either a panoramic view or pan-tilt-zoom feature depending on what is best for each location.
VanDeusen said if there is enough money for the fifth camera, it will be a mobile unit that can be moved to various points of the city as the department sees fit.
"We could hook it to either a telephone pole, building or tree - anywhere we would need a camera on a temporary basis," VanDeusen said.
He also said the upgrade also will address the problem the department has had with some cameras not regularly working because of the new operational system.
The department already has six cameras at various points around the city.
He also proposed to the Common Council that extra money in the equipment account be used to purchase six Tasers for officers on duty.
The chief said the extra money in the equipment account was made available because the leases and equipping of the new vehicles purchased came in less than they were budgeted for.
He also said he has spoken to Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira, who said the use of the forfeiture money should qualify.
He said the six purchased would be "hot swapped" between officers switching shifts.
"We have a lot of officer-related injuries and we lose a lot of time and money based on those injuries when officers are forced to go hands-on with a subject," VanDeusen said. "I believe these tasers would eliminate the need to go hands-on with a lot of these subjects."
The chief said the Tasers range in price from $800 to $1,200 per unit. The department is seeking the type of nonlethal electroshock weapon that shoots a probe from a safe distance, the chief said.
VanDeusen also said he is working with the district attorney's office to secure funding for the lighting systems for duty weapons and possibly secure ones already purchased for another agency that cannot use them.
He said having lights attached to firearms would improve his officers' ability to work at night because they could have one hand free instead of using it to hold a flashlight.
He said this upgrade would not replace existing flashlights and would only be used in specific circumstances when the officer's gun should be drawn.
"They both are in the early stages of exploration," VanDeusen said of the two initiatives.
The council didn't make any decision on the Tasers and lights but did pass a resolution Tuesday to allow the department to purchase new laptop computers for detectives and a new television that will be used in the media training room at the department.
The city will transfer $11,500 in funds confiscated by the U.S. Justice Department during drug cases and turned over to the city.
The police chief also made it a point to mention that other city departments would be able to use the screen and room for anything they may need it for as long as the Police Department isn't using it.
Finance Commissioner Bruce Van Genderen was authorized by the council to make the appropriate budget modification regarding the transfer of the $11,500.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.