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Chicopee Plans To Add More Surveillance Cameras

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    A western Massachusetts city is adding more police surveillance cameras after a pilot program proved successful.

    The city council in Chicopee has authorized funds to install a dozen new cameras around the city with the hope of deterring crime.

     Eleven surveillance cameras were installed in Chicopee Center in the fall of 2015 after Mayor Richard Kos met with downtown business owners and promised a swift response to a spike in crime that included two people being shot.

     " I think taking this seriously early enough in can make a difference," Kos said at the time.

     The existing cameras have been used on several occasions to help police investigate crimes, according to Michael Wilk, Chicopee Police Public Information Officer.

    " They are a great tool for our officers to use," he said. " We've had quite a few incidents where we went back and reviewed the video footage and get photos of people we were interested in speaking with."

     Recently, police used the cameras to track down a missing 4-year-old child. A number of traffic crashes were investigated using video from the cameras.

     Wilk said he believes the presence of the cameras has deterred crime.

     " When people know there is a camera it puts everybody on their best behavior," said Wilk.

     The planned locations for the new cameras have not been announced.

     " We are looking at different entry and exit areas of the city we can monitor, so if there is an incident and people try to leave Chicopee we can monitor that," said Wilk.

         A new centralized dispatch center is being built where police department personnel will be able to monitor all the cameras.  In addition to watching for crimes, dispatchers will be able to have officers respond to traffic backups.

      Wilk said there are also plans to monitor some of the cameras from the police substation in Chicopee Center.

       The downtown substation, located in the rear of a building that also houses the offices of the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, was opened 14 months ago as part of the plan to deter crime in the city center.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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