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City of South Amboy fights crime, improves safety with Verizon Intelligent Video and Intelligent Lighting solutions

  • Meet City of South Amboy, New Jersey

  • South Amboy, N.J., is a small Atlantic coastal town with a vibrant beachfront walkway and a bustling business district that attracts streams of residents and visitors on a daily basis, demanding 24/7 monitoring by the people whose job it is to keep the community safe.

    “We’re also a transit hub with commuter rail service to New York City,” said Darren LaVigne, South Amboy Police Chief. “The people who travel through South Amboy on a daily basis swell our population immensely each and every day.”

    Recently granted $1 million by the state, the town’s decision-makers worked with the South Amboy Police Department to upgrade community public lighting and install security cameras in these vital city districts.

    When it came time to choose a partner with an end-to-end video monitoring solution, city officials chose Verizon.

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  • Busy areas of town present staffing challenges for law enforcement

  • South Amboy has several areas of heavy foot traffic, with residents, visitors and commuters coming and going almost around the clock. Monitoring all these areas can put a big strain on the police department, making crime deterrence, detection and investigation that much more challenging.

    “The challenge is not being able to be everywhere at once,” said An Wang, Detective Sergeant for the South Amboy Police Department.

    With staffing resources always a consideration, Chief LaVigne remains open to new ideas and tools that can help his officers do their jobs. The safety grant from the state allowed city officials to pursue a video monitoring system that would serve as a force multiplier, allowing police to focus simultaneously on several key areas of town where public safety is a concern.

  • City of South Amboy, NJ intelligent video near the beach
    • Darren LaVigne, South Amboy Police Chief

    • Beginning quotation mark  This technology has enhanced our capabilities tenfold. It affords us the ability to be in other places that we can’t be physically and to go back and obtain information that we weren’t on hand to view personally.”

      Darren LaVigne, South Amboy Police Chief

    • Verizon Intelligent Video, Lighting expand the reach and capabilities of South Amboy law enforcement

    • Verizon worked with the city to design, engineer and install Verizon’s Intelligent Video and Intelligent Lighting solutions. This included hardware, software and ongoing monitoring services for more than 60 cameras in 35 locations, and providing more than 100 lighting control nodes so the city could convert street and walkway lighting to LED-smart fixtures.

      Verizon Intelligent Video is a hosted and managed comprehensive remote monitoring solution that provides enhanced situational awareness. It can gather, analyze, transmit and store video data that helps safety personnel make quick decisions and safeguard communities.

      Featuring a cloud-hosted video management system with analytics software, local storage devices and wired or wireless connectivity options, Verizon Intelligent Video captures high-quality images which can identify unusual behavior and trigger alerts. The video also can be archived for evidentiary needs.

      Verizon Intelligent Lighting converts LED fixtures into sensor-equipped smart devices that capture and transmit data, allowing for full control over lights and access to an array of lighting applications and services.

      When it came time to plan, install, monitor and maintain the Intelligent Video and Intelligent Lighting systems, Verizon was there every step of the way.

      “My first meeting with the Verizon rep, we spent a lot of time walking the streets looking at potential areas where cameras can be mounted and the coverage areas that would be provided with those installations,” said Detective Sergeant Wang, who serves as the department’s project manager for the Intelligent Video initiative.

    • Beginning quotation mark  You’re never going to replace a cop on the beat. But if we can equip them with better intel gathering and better information, it’s going to help make them safer, the community safer, and we’ll be able to deliver the services expected.”

      Glenn Skarzynski, South Amboy City Administrator

    • Intelligent Video and Intelligent Lighting provide the return on investment

    • When visitors enter the South Amboy Police headquarters, they can observe the video monitoring system at work. With two screens displaying live Intelligent Video images taken with cameras positioned on 30-foot-high poles around town, the station is both an information gathering hub and a reminder to citizens that their police department has stepped up its efforts to protect the community 24/7.

      “I don't think a lot of our citizens notice the cameras,” Wang said. “People normally notice the cameras when they come into our dispatch or come into our headquarters to file a report and they see the two big screens. That's the first time that they typically notice that there's a lot of video being captured in the city.”

      With Verizon Intelligent Video, the South Amboy Police can better monitor targeted areas of concern around the clock.

      “This technology has enhanced our capabilities tenfold,” Chief LaVigne said. “The technology affords us the ability to be in other places that we can’t be physically and to recreate and go back and obtain information that we weren’t on hand to view personally.”

      Verizon Intelligent Video has increased the department’s abilities and expanded its resources in several key areas.

  • City of South Amboy, NJ police vehicle
    • Staffing

      With bustling activity around the city, it’s challenging to have enough officers in all the right places all the time. But with video cameras positioned in these key areas, the department can cover a lot more ground.

      “It’s efficient and cuts down on a lot of man hours,” Chief LaVigne said, “and that's a very cost-effective way of doing business now.”

      “Even though we're only a square mile, to have the ability or the manpower to have an officer walk that with any regularity—because that's the only way it's accessible—it’s just not a realistic expectation,” said Glenn Skarzynski, South Amboy City Administrator.

      “But now we have an unblinking eye there, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is wired right to our police station. So, if there's any shenanigans or nefarious conduct going on, the police are immediately notified and they know exactly where to respond and what they're responding to.”

      Verizon also provides support on the back end so police department staff aren’t bogged down on the technical operation of the system and can better focus on their main tasks of fighting crime and keeping the community safe.

      “I get periodic emails from Verizon advising me that there was an issue that they found with a camera being down and they've already addressed the issue prior to me even noticing any problem,” Detective Sergeant Wang said. “That is refreshing in a sense where being a person who wears multiple hats in the agency, having that proactive backup by Verizon without me having to constantly monitor the system on my own.”

  • Aerial view of a South Amboy, NJ residential neighborhood
    • Crime detection and investigation

      Verizon Intelligent Video is a proactive tool to help mitigate criminal activity and a useful asset to help solve crimes faster.

      “In addition to monitoring in real time and spotting potential suspicious activity, it just gives us a great superpower to go back in time to review incidents that have occurred when we were not around,” Detective Sergeant Wang said. “Being able to capture those incidents and use those for investigations is great because a video camera system does not lie like, you know, like a person's victim statement might be mistaken. They might have not seen something. Whereas what you see on the camera is pretty accurate.”

      “I know what policing was like prior to the camera system,” Chief LaVigne said. “At times investigations were long, arduous and drawn out, and very, very time consuming. And with the camera systems, they've been streamlined, they've been very factual, and they've assisted not only our detective bureau, but our officers on patrol who are tasked with taking basic reports and investigating crimes from their inception.”

      The department also has set up cameras at various city entry points, so police can monitor vehicles as they enter and exit the city limits.

      “Our city cameras have been a huge help giving us times of egress and ingress into the city,” Detective Sergeant Wang said. “When they came, when they went, as well as we've been successful in capturing vehicle plates and being able to identify the vehicles and the owners of those vehicles used in these crimes.”

    • Deterring crime

      Whether it’s on the beachfront, in the business district or around the train station, the presence of police-operated security cameras offers a constant reminder to would-be criminals that they’re being watched.

      “Knowing that the cameras are out there, it makes it a lot safer for people to just get out of their homes,” said South Amboy Mayor Fred Henry. “And especially after COVID the last few years, people want to get out and see the town, but they want to feel safe doing it.”

      South Amboy’s expansive, new LED lighting solution—Verizon Intelligent Lighting—also serves as a significant crime deterrent.

      “Especially in our business district where we are our most busy and typically crime likes to happen in the shadows and at dark,” Detective Sergeant Wang said. “Verizon Intelligent Lighting lights up our business district at night almost as bright as it is during the daytime and does a great job with helping to reduce nighttime crime.”

  • City of South Amboy, NJ intelligent video
    • Non-criminal safety monitoring

      Verizon Intelligent Video also helps locate lost or stolen items, identify trends in safety hazards with analytics, and assists in situations where a citizen’s safety is in jeopardy.

      “The people that live here are our greatest resource,” Chief LaVigne said. “We've had elderly people wander away from a residential care facility, missing persons, and this technology has been a tremendous asset in charting where they were going, what direction they were in, and leading to successful recoveries and getting loved ones back in their care facility.

      “To be able to hone that down and hyper-focus on those areas and eventually get that loved one reunited with their families—I don't think you can put a price tag on that.”

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    • What the future holds: A ferry to Manhattan and expanded video monitoring

    • As South Amboy’s city officials embrace technology in the present, they also see it as a way to expand their crime and safety awareness in the future. Big plans ahead include offering weekday ferry service to Manhattan; construction of a two-story ferry terminal in South Amboy is expected to begin in 2023.

      The terminal complex is part of a larger vision to create an intermodal transit village where ferry service will combine strategically with the local train service to improve city and regional mobility. The expanded area is sure to further stretch the resources of public safety departments, which in turn plan to embrace expansion of the Verizon Intelligent Video monitoring solution.

      “We want to continue to put cameras in more and different places around town,” Mayor Henry said. “We would like to do more because the cameras have been successful.”

      “You're never going to replace a cop on the beat,” City Administrator Skarzynski said. “But if we can equip them with better intel gathering and better information, it's going to help make them safer, the community safer, and we'll be able to deliver the services expected.”

      As Chief LaVigne said, “It's an additional tool in our toolbox to give people a sense of security. And that's what we're in the business of doing.”

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