Though criminal activity at Waveny is rare and the 300-acre park doesn’t need surveillance throughout, it would help investigators to have cameras at entrances and exits that capture images of license plates and people in vehicles, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said last week.
Such video camera systems have already helped deter crime at the New Canaan YMCA, located across South Avenue from Waveny, Krolikowski told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting Wednesday.
“The YMCA had a big problem with people coming into their parking lot and breaking into their cars, and at our recommendation they installed camera systems that captured license plates, and that dropped off dramatically,” the chief said at the meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department. “So it helps in that regard.”
Nearly 2,000 people have signed an online petition calling for video surveillance cameras at the park. Launched in the wake of revelations that a missing New Canaan woman’s car was found parked along Waveny on Lapham Road the day she went missing, the petition calls for cameras on specific trails as well as at the Lapham entrance.
After Waveny user, trial lawyer and New Canaan mom Hilary Ormond presented the petition this month to the Parks & Recreation Commission, that appointed body called for a detailed proposal from police.
Krolikowski said he would put a proposal into a memo for the Police Commission to review at its July meeting, “but I don’t know if they are going to like what we will recommend, because I think some people are looking for a more comprehensive camera system throughout the whole park.”
“I personally don’t think that is necessary. I think if people are going to commit a crime there it’s going to be in vehicles so if we can capture vehicles coming in and out it will be tremendous for helping us look back at the tapes and investigate and capture people that are committing crimes. I don’t think there is any need for any kind of town-wide or park-wide surveillance system. I don’t think that is necessary.”
He added: “My inclination is, entrances and exits and some other sparse improvements throughout the park but nothing along the lines of a park-wide surveillance system.”
More than six months ago, Krolikowski said, he asked an officer who is trained in premises security to make recommendations about cameras at Waveny. Generally, those recommendations included “some kind of camera systems at the entrance and exits, ideally that would capture license plates, and perhaps some solar lights in the Waveny trails that will activate at night and perhaps some kind of call box somewhere within Waveny.”
The cameras would “help tremendously” with investigations into crimes and incidents at Waveny, which in the past have included thefts from vehicles, drug use and suicide, the chief said.
It isn’t clear how much cameras would cost, though a $250,000 that has been floating around “is excessive,” Krolikowski said.
“I think something could be done at the entrance and exit at Lapham Road and South Avenue,” he said. “We could start off slow, see how it works and be reasonable about it.”