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Law enforcement will soon be able to keep a closer eye on downtown Canandaigua.

With the goal of enhancing public safety and deterring crime in the city, 14 high-definition surveillance cameras will be installed on Main Street by the end of the year.

“It’s going to be invaluable for us,” said Canandaigua Police Chief Stephen Hedworth. “It’s one small part of our plan of attack to keep Canandaigua safe and secure for everybody.”

Hedworth said the cameras have been placed in spots along Main Street that are considered areas of interest or concern.

The cameras, enclosed in weatherproof cases, have the ability to be accessed live on monitors located at the Canandaigua Police Department station and at the E-911 Center. Police officers also will be able to view the live camera footage on computers present inside their patrol vehicles.

The recordings caught by the devices can also be looked at later on, as the surveillance system has the capability of storing the footage captured by the cameras. The system also offers zoom capability that can be accessed live or on the stored footage to assist in the investigation of criminal activity and traffic accidents, for example.

More cameras may be added to the system in the future as needed, Hedworth said.

The planned surveillance system is expected to be up and running in early 2017.

The program was made possible in August, when the City Council voted 8-1 in favor of a $61,555.50 contract with Victor-based Integrated Systems to provide and install the cameras.

Council member Anita Twitchell was the lone vote against the project.

At the time, she called downtown one of the safest areas in the city and said the cameras were unnecessary considering the cost.

“I think cameras everywhere is a sorry state of affairs,” Twitchell said in August.

However, according to Denise Chaapel, manager of the downtown Business Improvement District and owner of Sweet Expressions on Main Street, crime does exist locally, and the cameras offer several benefits.

“We had three window breaks, a couple very violent late-night crimes all happen about the same time we were looking at how we can make downtown Canandaigua more appealing for locals and tourists to shop, dine and explore any time of the day,” Chaapel said.

Earlier this year, Chaapel pointed out that business owners, police officers and city staff walked the downtown area after dark to find ways to improve the area’s safety.

During the walk, it was determined that certain areas were not well lit and that there was a lack of working cameras.

At the time of the safety exploration, it was established that the Canandaigua Police Department was also in need of an update to its technology.

Chaapel called it a win-win for residents and visitors of the community. She added that it offers potential in the recruitment of new businesses to the area.

“One of the first questions people ask when they are looking at opening a store is, ‘How safe is the community?'” Chaapel said.

Business reaction

“I think it’s a great thing to have, the cameras,” says Sue Morris, “just a little bit extra protection.”

Morris has worked at the Goodie Shop for 29 of the 31 years it has been on Main Street in Canandaigua. She says she had some questionable customers over the years, but hasn’t really had to deal with major crime. However, she says times are changing and welcomes extra security here on Main Street.

“People have to be aware that there’s the camera,” says Morris. “It’s a deterrent and I think we have to do whatever we can to keep it from happening.”

The City Council voted overwhelmingly last summer to provide the financing for the cameras. The one council member who voted against the program at the time said the downtown area is one of the safest in the city.

David Behelfer runs Crown Jewelry. His family has operated this business downtown since 1947. He says the cameras will bolster the security system inside the store.

“More security is better,” he tells us. “You run a jewelry store; obviously it’s one of the major issues. And if it helps the police keep the bad guys away so much the better.”