More police cameras expected on Cortland's Main Street

CORTLAND, N.Y. — City lawmakers will soon decide whether or not to permit the city’s police department to install 15 additional police cameras in the downtown area.

All nine members of Cortland Common Council, including Mayor Brian Tobin, discussed the proposal at city hall Tuesday night.

There are currently four police cameras on Main Street, including two at the intersection of West Court and Main Street, one at the intersection of Port Watson and Main Street and another at the intersection of Tompkins and Main Street.

The fifteen additional cameras would be placed at various locations on Main Street from Williams Street to Groton Avenue. A camera would also be placed on Central Avenue off of Main Street.

Deputy Police Chief Paul Sandy said that installing more cameras in the downtown area would help “deter and solve crime.”

A city police officer can be seen walking down Main Street during the daytime hours—a recently implemented beat program, Sandy says, that has received ‘rave reviews’ from city residents—though such a program can prove costly and fail to cover other key intervals of the day.

The average patrol officer walking the street costs about $100,000 annually, Sandy said, while it would cost $88,000 for the city to install and implement 15 additional police cameras on Main Street—or, about $5,000 for each camera.

On June 10, several senior members of the police department met with the proprietors of Bernard’s Custom Logo & Trophy, Brix Pubaria, the Beard Building and Catholic Charities of Cortland County, all of which would have a police camera fixated on their building's entrance. Sandy said all of the business owners were on board with the proposal and in favor of expanding on the police camera program.

“Cameras are a good step in helping us on Main Street, where we’ve been absent for so many years,” Sandy told common council members Tuesday night. “A lot of activity happens down there, and we can’t always be there.”

The city police department has $50,000 in its 2016 budget to cover the cost of purchasing and installing the cameras, Sandy said. Common Council is expected to vote on whether allocate the remaining cost of the cameras—about $39,000—at its first July meeting.