TUPPER LAKE - Village police will again use surveillance cameras to crack down on problems at the Municipal Park.
By the end of next week, two broken cameras at the park will be fully operational, police Chief Eric Proulx said.
The surveillance system was purchased five years ago using drug seizure money and installed by the village Electrical Department. It has since fallen into disrepair.
"There is one box that has two cameras mounted to it," Proulx said. "One is a pan-tilt-zoom camera, which can be controlled remotely."
Proulx said he increased police presence at the park in response to repeated complaints about people, usually in their late teens to early 20s, drinking, using drugs, fighting and harassing others, usually older people with younger children. Officers now arrest about two people per week in the park, but the complaints are still rolling in.
"We can't have a police officer in the park 24-7," Proulx said. "There's only so many of us, and we have other things to do. There's no way we're going to curb everything that happens in the park, but the cameras are going to be a resource to go back and review anything that's happened."
Proulx said he is also discussing the option, with the village's electric superintendent John Bouck, of turning the park's lights off at 10 p.m. to curtail people hanging out down there at night.
The increased police presence hasn't made everyone happy, though. Proulx said he has received some complaints from people who say officers are harassing park-goers.
"I've gotten a few complaints from people that came in and said their kids were down at the park and all they see is cops walking around, and they feel intimidated and they feel like they're being harassed," Proulx said. "My answer to that is, it's a public park, and I'm getting more of the type of complaints that people can't enjoy the public park. So I'm putting a police presence there as much as I can."
This summer marks Proulx's first as police chief, and he said one of his top priorities is making sure the park is safe.
"The park is used more now," Proulx said. "The softball league is back where it used to be, more family stuff is going on down there, and the village is currently in the process of rebuilding the playground portion of the park uptown, so there's going to be equipment there for the young kids where there hasn't been for several years."
Proulx said new security cameras will be installed at the rebuilt playground once it's finished.
"The nature of the reports I'm getting is that it isn't a good family environment, so we need to curb what's going on down there," Proulx said.
Contact Shaun Kittl at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.