There could be a lot more cameras keeping an on the Elm City.
Mayor Justin Elicker’s office tells us that they, in collaboration with the New Haven Police Department, are asking the city’s Board of Alders for $3.8 million of American Rescue Funds to purchase, install and support about 500 more cameras around the city.
The budget submission says this will include some license plate readers and that cameras would be installed near entrances and egresses the city has determined to be hotspots for crime.
“We struggle to get community members to share information. People are afraid. They don’t want to be a snitch. Cameras don’t lie and cameras can provide a lot more information to help us very quickly, in some cases arrest someone,” said Elicker during his weekly city violence update Monday.
Some residents NBC Connecticut spoke to are all for the additional cameras,
“Yes, definitely for a safer sense of community,” said Kendra Nixon.
But some have privacy concerns, including the ACLU of Connecticut.
“From a racial justice perspective we really believe the city should be spending the money to provide meaningful social services, mental health support, housing, education, things of that nature, not blanketing the city with surveillance cameras essentially turning it into another type of racial profiling,” said executive director David McGuire.
The city has allotted $12 million of American Rescue Funds to go towards public safety initiatives.
That request includes an additional $200,000 a year for overtime supplementing neighborhood walking and bike patrols.
Plus, $1.2 million over a four-year period to expand the city’s “ShotSpotter” program, which alerts police of gunshots fired in areas of the city.
“I’ll be frank that other municipalities have better camera systems than we do,” said Elicker.
Currently, New Haven’s police department says they have 258 cameras and its ShotSpotter technology covers almost 5.5 square miles of the city.
In comparison, Hartford Police tells us its ShotSpotter program covers 11.25 square miles and they have 775 cameras (which they say does include DPW park and facility cameras).
“I think there’s generally been an attitude shift that says if people aren’t going to talk. We’ve got to find someone that’s going to talk and that person, or that entity, is going to be a camera,” Elicker, who says community members have been asking him for more cameras.
“The City of New Haven should not be spending relief dollars to surveil communities, specifically communities of color in New Haven,” said McGuire.
The Board of Alders public safety committee is now tasked with reviewing the request.
We reached out to the committee chair and Board of Alders president for a comment but did not hear back from them.