New London police considering surveillance cameras at city 'hot spots'

New London — The city's police department is evaluating the cost of installing surveillance cameras in high-crime areas of New London so its officers could use footage to investigate crimes.

Whether camera equipment is installed depends on the department's ability to get funding from the city and private donations, Chief Peter Reichard said Wednesday at a low-key community forum at the Public Library of New London. He said the department likely will approach the City Council about it later this year.

It might happen or it might not, he said. "We're looking at the cost."

Speaking at the forum — which drew city residents with questions about parking, diversity on the police force and officer recruitment — Reichard said the installation of the cameras would be completed in phases.

"Once we put a camera up in one neighborhood, street crime will move to another neighborhood," he said.

He said cameras in the high-population parts of the city with a lot of police activity, like the intersection of Prest and Blackhall streets and Nautilus Drive, would record footage that officers later could use to investigate crimes or accidents.

"You'd have the ability to take a look back to see what happened ... who was involved, what car was involved," he said. "If we can't have an officer there, we can at least have a video of what's going on in the neighborhood."

Reichard said he is evaluating how to fund the purchase, installation and maintenance of cameras, which he said could be expensive, though he didn't provide an estimate of the total cost.

If funded, the new cameras could replace surveillance cameras installed more than a decade ago. 

The department installed surveillance cameras on State Pier and near the ferry terminals in the early 2000s, Reichard said, but those cameras are now out-of-date and many don't work or are in such poor shape that the department rarely uses them to investigate crimes or complaints.

"When it's working we do (use them)," he said. "They don't work the way the modern equipment does, they don't work (well) at night."

The department eventually could install cameras in other busy areas, like Colman and Bank streets, something that some business owners have asked for, Reichard said.

"We don't want to make it so we have cameras in every corner of the city, but in areas where they serve a purpose," he said.

m.shanahan@theday.com

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