They're watching: Use of surveillance grows in Broome

By Erika Mahoney

April 19, 2013 Updated Apr 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When the two Boston bombs exploded on Bolyston Street, Broome County Capt. Frederick Akshar says his first reaction was heartache for the victims.

Then his attention turned to bring the suspects to justice.

"I think first and foremost, in anybody's mind, your heart and your feelings go out to the victims that were impacted by such a tragic, and quite frankly, a senseless act," Akshar said.

Training teaches the pivot.

"While you are, of course, sympathetic to all of those injuries and the death, it's on the forefront of your mind, it also drives you to come to a successful conclusion in cases like that."

And that, he says, involves exploring every avenue that will lead to information and evidence particular to the case.

In the Boston bombings, technology like surveillance video and smartphone media is turning out to be a crucial tool.

The importance of that information crossed Akshar's mind right away.

"You think about, boy I wonder if there was a surveillance camera here or did a camera capture this or that. And as law enforcement as a whole, you know, of course, they thought about that. Just as we do in every major case we work here in Broome County."

The President of Sentry Alarms in Binghamton says her market continues to grow with the public and police.

"I mean we personally have tens of thousands of them in our market area," said Jean Levenson, president of Sentry Alarms. "Almost every week of the year, law enforcement is using one of our clients' videos to try and apprehend a suspect or see something."

One of their biggest clients is Twin River Commons, where more than 120 cameras track nearly every inch of their surroundings.

"Being in an urban community, there's fear for our residents' safety," Property Manager Jerry Wojenski said. "Having these surveillance cameras does alleviate some of our concerns. It is a tool for us to both prevent crime and address crime if it should happen."

Security cameras are tools that are advancing in technology as well as in acceptance.

"Years and years ago, when we put cameras into a school district, you had some parents up in arms that there were cameras," said Sentry Alarms General Manager Jeff Treubig. "Now you have the opposite. If a parent was having a kid go to a school that didn't have cameras, that would bother them."

But Akshar says the human eye remains one of the best tools.

"People have to remain vigilant. Sheriff Harder reminds the public, if you see something, say something. Just like after 9/11, society came into this time when we were reporting everything. And over the course of time, while we may not forget, it's not on the forefront of our mind.

"So unfortunately, these tragic events need to be turned into something positive," Akshar said. "No call to law enforcement will be turned away, or be shunned. It's very, very important the community and law enforcement work together."