Saugerties police will be adding a new tool to their crime-fighting arsenal in the coming weeks when they install two fixed license plate readers with cameras in the village.
The department received a $50,000 grant from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services for the purchase of the two license plate readers that will be placed in the village.
“We’ll be able to check the license plate of every vehicle that comes through the main roads of the village,” said Police Chief Joseph Sinagra at the April 21 Village Board meeting.
Police already have license plate readers installed on many of the patrol cars. Sinagra declined to say where the new fixed location readers would be installed, only that they would be up and running by July 1.
The two readers come equipped with cameras so that dispatchers at police headquarters can snap a picture of the vehicle.
“It will help us locate people for an amber alert or if a vehicle is stolen or was used in the commission of a crime,” Sinagra said.
License plate numbers of cars sought by police will be sent directly to the readers, which will automatically sound the alarm if they catch sight of any.
Sinagra said this tool would have been a major asset in identifying vehicles that were used in the rash of bank robberies that hit Saugerties over the last few years.
For those worried the readers will be used to keep information on local motorists, Sinagra said that would not be the case. “We will not be using these readers to retain information about our residents,” Sinagra said.
However, should police receive information that a vehicle was used during a crime or being used by someone that is wanted, they will be able to scroll back through the images to look for the vehicle in question.
The two readers will be part of a police surveillance system that includes two mounted cameras, one at the M&T Bank and the other on the corner of Main and Partition streets. A third camera will be installed in June at the intersection of Partition and Russell streets, which will give police video coverage down the length of Partition St.
The two cameras have already played key roles in helping solve crimes and in showing police exactly what happened during a number of incidents. There has been no significant public opposition to the new surveillance.