"Anarchist" performers oppose surveillance cameras in Peekskill

By Liz Consavage

The Putnam Journal News

Sunday 24 October 1999

PEEKSKILL -- A group of self-described anarchists performed yesterday in opposition to the city's plan to install police surveillance cameras in the downtown.

The Surveillance Camera Players put on skits at the corner of main and North Division streets and outside Bohlmann Towers -- two of the sites where cameras are scheduled to be placed.

"We intend to press forward with our effort to prevent this," said Nick Mottern, a member of the citizens group Coalition for Creative Solutions, which opposes the camera plan.

Peekskill last week prepared requests to four contractors to bid on the installation. City Manager Patrick Garvey said bidders must present a comprehensive plan for the installation.

"They have to not only sell the equipment, they also have to be able to lay the wire. They have to install it and maintain it and be able to put it all together and have it come out at the command center at Police Headquarters," Garvey said. "They have to be capable of integrating all of this."

Responses to the requests for proposals, known as RFPs, are expected within two to three weeks and installation could begin this year. Peekskill plans major renovations at the Police Department to include a command center, in-house cameras to monitor holding cells and doorways, as well as the monitoring station for the surveillance cameras throughout the city.

Garvey said that the cost of the installation plan should not be much more than the $165,000 already estimated by the city for the cameras.

"I don't think there are any surprises when it comes to cost," Garvey said. "We will fund it out of existing capital funds that are part of police station renovations."

In March, the Common Council hastily approved the camera plan, which has undergone changes because of technical problems and Peekskill's inability to use federal funds to place the cameras on city-owned property near Bohlmann. The Peekskill Housing Authority has a plan to use part of a $451,914 grant to install three cameras outside the housing complex on Main Street

The city also plans to install cameras at Riverfront Green, Depew Park, the Main-North Division intersection and in the Nelson Avenue and James Street parking structures.

Garvey said multiple cameras will be used in the city garages rather than tilt-and-pan cameras planned for the other sites.

The proposed use of cameras has caused debate at Common Council meetings for more than six months and has become a focal point in the campaign of council and mayoral candidates.

"We are hopeful that all these politicians will see that this is not helpful to the community in any way," Mottern said. "Cameras give people a false sense of security. We hope they'll all be responsive."

Contact the Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail Info@notbored.org

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998

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