North Jersey towns acquiring high-tech surveillance gear
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2012 LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY NOVEMBER 23, 2012, 12:03 AM
BY ZACH PATBERG
A federal anti-terrorism program has drawn North Jersey deeper into the practice of hidden surveillance, equipping police departments with high-tech cameras, infrared technology and automatic license plate readers to keep tabs on people as they travel to local reservoirs, financial hubs and malls.
The stepped-up security around potential terrorist targets links the region into a network of clandestine monitoring. Some of the departments are already putting to use the equipment provided by Homeland Security; others are gearing up.
Oradell, Emerson, Closter and Harrington Park police have car-mounted night-vision technology and video and recording equipment that can watch over the Oradell Reservoir and dam — and the hikers and anglers entering it. West Milford can do the same around the Newark watershed. Wayne police are scanning scan the license plates of vehicles outside the Willowbrook Mall, while East Rutherford officers patrol hotel parking lots near the Meadowlands and the Federal Reserve building off Route 17.
Local police signed onto the Homeland Security network have broad discretion in deciding what to monitor and when to share surveillance feeds with federal agents. And when national security isn’t calling, they can use the equipment for day-to-day police work, such as enhanced tracking systems to catch suspects and better radio communication among officers.