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Chief says video surveillance can help fight crime in Batavia

The bad guys have surveillance cameras. Why shouldn't the guys in white hats have them, too?

Rob Yaeger, Batavia PD's assistant chief, said during an interview today that seeing surveillance cameras on the homes of known troublemakers is an increasing trend.

"Usually it's the houses we have to go to repeatedly, they have the cameras," Yaeger said. "They want to know who's coming to their door."

As part of the 2014-15 city budget, Batavia PD is requesting $7,500 for a surveillance camera.

Based on initial reactions from the public, Chief Shawn Heubusch thinks there are misconceptions about its purpose and how it will be used.

First, it won't be a stationary camera. It will be portable so it can be set up in anticipated trouble spots and moved around as needed.

Second, its video feed won't be monitored 24/7.

"I just don't want the general public to get the idea that it's Big Brother watching them because we don't really have the need to do that, nor we do we want to," Heubusch said.

Cameras have been successfully used to deter crime in Binghamton and Hornell, Heubusch said.

While those cameras are stationary, "they've seen a very dramatic decrease in crime where cameras are installed," Heubusch said.

The chief said he understand some of the concerns some people have expressed about surveillance cameras, but he believes in certain neighborhoods at certain times, they can be helpful in fighting crime.

"I certainly wouldn't want one out in front of my house, but if I lived on a bad block, I might want one in front of my house," Heubusch said.

Of course, surveillance camera technology these days has gotten so good and so inexpensive, that just about anybody -- including criminals -- can set up cameras outside their homes.

It's not a bad idea for people interested in protecting their property or their neighborhood to install their own cameras, Heubusch said.

"I would encourage anybody, if they can afford it, to install a video surveillance system just around their house, around their property, because property crime is always there," Heubusch said. "Unfortunately it will always be with us."

That said, in response to a comment on The Batavian, Heubusch said, it's still up to Batavia PD to take advantage of technology to help fight crime. The police can't rely solely on private citizens installing cameras. For one thing, the chain of evidence rules might make it harder for such video evidence to be admissible, especially if the resident demands anonymity.

It's also just better for police to conduct their own operations.

"It's our property," Heubusch said. "We're the ones in charge of keeping the safety and security of the residents of the city. I'm not going to depend on somebody else to put a video surveillance system on a troubled property. I'll do that myself. That's my job."

Still, in today's society -- not just in Batavia -- crime is always a public worry, and if residents want to take on themselves the installation of cameras in their neighborhoods, that's not a bad thing, Heubusch said.

"We do everything we can to stay on top of it (crime), but we'll take all the help we can get, so if somebody wants to install a camera system at their house, by God, bring it on."

Erika Unger
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Set it up on Liberty at southside deli facing max pies and you can catch drug houses. That's where I want it if it's on that st

Doug Yeomans
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I'm all for everyone setting up security cameras on their own property to catch possible nefarious activity, but I'm not for the government just setting up a camera pointing at a house without a warrant. We're not Great Britain where the government has set up cameras everywhere.

Think about it this way, if the police decided to set up a camera on a utility pole and pointed it directly at your house, would you be comfortable with that? How about they just stuck a listening device up there, also. They could hear everything you say and see everything you do. Great idea, huh? There's a reason why warrants are needed for police to perform certain types of surveillance. Those reasons are defined in the constitution.

Police should not be able to just start having free reign without a checking system in place. Good grief, are we becoming Nazi Germany? WAKE UP!

Kyle Couchman
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I'd just like to point out though Doug that you are entitled to an expectation of privacy in your home. These security cameras can't hear inside your home or usually see inside anymore than a person walking by on the street.

However there are regulations and laws about the outside of your house and your yard as these are exposed to the public and even though you own them can be subject to citations and fines. Therefore I do believe that said security cams do have a place in these circumstances. The invasiveness of it doesnt rise to the level of requireing a warrant. After all Doug you may live far enough out of the city that if you wanted to walk around your property nekkid you could do so. But someone doing it in their yard in the city would be arrested to ticketed for indecent exposure. Its one of the trade offs for city living...

Doug Yeomans
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I would scare the cows if I did that. I'm noticing that there's a whole different crowd that checks out the batavian here and on facebook.

Doug Yeomans
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This seems to be the blue hair group

Jack Dorf
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Who said anything about a camera being pointed at any specific house. How is a camera any different looking down a street than a police officer doing the same thing. Your not invading anyone's privacy on a public street. Cameras don't lie when it comes down to specific details of an event.

Beth Kinsley
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Rob Yaeger did Jack: Rob Yaeger, Batavia PD's assistant chief, said during an interview today that seeing surveillance cameras on the homes of known trouble makers is an increasing trend.

To me "on the homes of known trouble makers" means they would be pointed at that house.

Kyle Couchman
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Beth I think you misunderstood Yaegers comment. He is stating that the "bad guys" have these cameras on their houses. Cameras from utilitiy poles or other conveyances can see no more than an actual person standing there can see. You still have privacy in the areas you can reasonably expect such privacy. Actually if you go to google maps and look at street level views you will find that your house or apartment may already have been photographed....without your permission.

Doug so if there is a sudden shortage of milk locally we can deductively come to the conclusion that you were walking around nekkid again LOL.

Beth Kinsley
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I see Kyle. I guess I did misunderstand. Kind of like the cameras that Doug Yeomans has? He is certainly well-equipped:)

scott williams
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MOUNT THEM ON TOP OF THE COP CARS AND DRIVE THEM AROUND OR PARK IT IN A CERTAIN AREA FOR AWHILE. GOOGLE DOES IT IF YOU LOOK UP MY HOUSE ON GOOGLE I'M WAVING TO THE CAMERA FROM THE FRONT WINDOW. It's not an invasion..Just don't buy the cameras the banks use you can never see anything with them.

Kyle Couchman
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LOL @ a well equipped Doug. Damn Beth you made soda shoot out my nose on that one. Please give me a warning LMAO

Eugene Jankowski Jr
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I've talked with Chief Heubusch and Assistant Chief Yaeger about this Camera equipment at same time we discussed the "sweep". I personally know both of them and trust they have good intentions to use any equipment, including cameras, in full compliance with the law to make Batavia a safer place. I would never support any program or equipment that would violate an individuals civil rights or privacy. I've even asked to review the policy governing the cameras use before I give it my full support to insure full compliance. If this camera is approved you'll probably never have any experience with it. Unless of course your neighbors are constantly complaining about criminal activity at your house and it's confirmed by other methods of proper police work.

Mark Brudz
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You know Geno, The City of Batavia is blessed to have had you as a Lieutenant in our Police Department and we should all feel honored to have you serving on our City Council.

Based on your first reactions to this and the Sweeps Issue, and your current post on these issues, it is obvious that you are a most honorable man.

The community as a whole should sleep well knowing that you are in office.

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