Riverhead officials are seeking $160,379 in unused Community Development Block Grant funds to start installing security cameras at several key areas downtown to improve public safety.
The cameras are part of a multiphase policing plan estimated to cost over $300,000. Riverhead Police Department officials proposed the overall plan in the fall and suggested putting the cameras at strategic locations downtown as part of an overall plan to bolster security in the core business district.
The funding will be used to install cameras at Grangebel Park and the LIRR station at Osborn Avenue and Railroad Street, police and town officials said. The money also is to be used for software needed for camera surveillance from the police department headquarters on Howell Avenue.
Riverhead Councilman Tim Hubbard said town officials became aware of the excess funding after Suffolk County officials said the town still had block grant money left over from other projects.
“We’re going to have to secure some more grant money down the road to finish up [the policing plan] completely, but this will give us a real good start,” Hubbard said.
The overall proposal also includes expanding police foot patrols, increasing lighting on Main Street and parking district lots, and developing a police call box system that would connect callers to police headquarters from downtown locations.
Because block grant funding requires public input, the town board will need public comment before being able to designate the block grant funding for the policing plan. Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said Thursday that once the funding is approved, both Grangebel Park and the train station will each receive 12 to 16 cameras. Upgrading the software at the police station will likely take place simultaneously, he said.
“Everyone’s got cameras, so people expect that to be there,” Hegermiller said, adding that the cameras can help deter crimes as well as solve them.
After the first installation, the town would install cameras at the north and south parking lots in the downtown area in later years as money becomes available, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said Friday.
Town residents have until May 10 to submit written comments on the proposal to Town Hall. The board will seek to vote on approving the funding to use on the policing program at their regular May 22 meeting, according to a public notice from Town Hall.