2017-07-20 / Front Page

Newport to Upgrade Surveillance Cameras

By Olga Enger

The Newport City Council approved a major upgrade to the city’s video surveillance system that will assist the Newport Police Department in monitoring activities inside the station and in the busiest areas of the city. At the July 12 council meeting, city council unanimously approved two resolutions to upgrade cameras and the police department’s video system for a total cost of $368,000.

Newport has cameras at 11 locations today, but only one is operable, which is located near the Newport Police station. That camera has the potential to reach City Hall to the south and Dunkin’ Donuts to the north. As part of the approved project, ATG Group of Providence will install 25 cameras throughout the city, including the replacement of the existing 11 cameras. ATG will be paid $236,000 for the camera installation, and Toner Electric of Middletown will install electrical connections for a cost of $6,490.

When the existing cameras were installed in 2004, the city did not have fiber optic technology available, which will be utilized in the new system to transmit the signal to City Hall for storage and the police department for monitoring.

“Who will be monitoring what we see on these screens from the cameras?” asked Councilor Kathryn Leonard at the meeting.

Police Chief Gary Silva told council the police department would be responsible for monitoring all footage from the cameras, which will be conducted by the officer assigned to the desk.

“It will be centrally located. It will be manned 24 hours a day,” Silva said.

Councilor Bova asked how long the files will be stored.

“The equipment is on site,” responded James O'Halloran, the city’s technology director. “It will be stored for 30 days and then it will be automatically deleted.”

The police department said the cameras both deter criminals from committing a crime and allow officers to investigate crimes efficiently. The result will be a safer community and a better quality of life for residents, police claim.

“The cameras will assist dispatchers and provide the ability to give officers in the field real-time information on calls for service and allow an accurate description of suspects to be broadcast to officers, thereby resulting in an increase in the solvability of crimes,” reads the resolution.

As a separate resolution, council approved a $125,000 contract with ATG to update the existing analog CCTV system at the police department to a digital video system. The current system is 20 years old and is outdated and inadequate, claim officials.

“Video capability within the police station is vital in order to monitor members of the public or property placed within the care, custody or control of the police department,” reads the resolution. “Additionally, two interview rooms with stand-alone audio/video capabilities in the detective division of the Newport police station are necessary to meet the state requirements for capital offense interviews.”

Three companies responded to the request for proposals, and the ATG bid was midpoint. Councilor Leonard asked why the city did not select the lowest bid of $72,000 from Dane Tech Inc. of Cranston.

“The quality of the product. It’s Chinese-made and has a poor reputation,” O'Halloran said.

Councilor Jeanne Marie Napolitano acknowledged the police department for putting the proposals together.

“This has been 20 years in the making,” Napolitano said. “I want to commend the police department for putting this in. It’s important for the safety of the residents. It’s something that has come up time and time and time again.”

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