NORWALK, Conn. – Common Councilman Jerry Petrini (R-District A) continues to be enthused about an idea presented by a Norwalk teen mother.
Tanasia Ticking, a Briggs High School senior, made her presentation about safety in Norwalk parks to the full council Tuesday night, 2½ weeks after speaking to Petrini and other members of the Health, Public Safety and Welfare Committee. While she talked about substance abuse among teenagers, she is hoping city officials will find the money to put surveillance cameras in Norwalk parks, with a direct feed to Norwalk Police headquarters. She also suggests increased police patrols and more trash cans.
Petrini said that a ,day or two after the committee meeting, he saw a news broadcast about a video surveillance pilot program in Mount Vernon, N.Y.
“It was a direct feed, but more so than that, it came on after dusk when you’re not supposed to be there. Before, it would warn you. It had a vocal track that said, ‘You are here after hours. You should not be here. If you don’t leave, your picture will be taken and you could be prosecuted.’ It’s been working in other cities.”
The cameras cost about $3,000 and were paid for through a grant, he said.
“Something like that might just work,” he said. “You can’t police your way out of this; there’s not budget. But you gave me that idea.”
Tanasia is one of five or six Briggs students who began looking last October for photographic evidence of safety issues in Norwalk as part of PhotoVoice, a research project conducted through the school’s Dr. Robert E. Appleby School-Based Health Center in partnership with the Norwalk Health Department.
Briggs senior Laura Lopez, also a teen mom, was with her at the committee meeting, the third time they had presented the information. There had been others involved, but, Tuesday night, Tanasia was the only one still plugging.
“Fix (the parks) for the next generation of kids,” she said. “Sometimes as teens we feel like nobody talks about these issues unless something bad happens. We really shouldn’t wait for it to get to that point before we start making differences.”
She said studies in Bridgeport schools showed that kids stayed in schools more when the parks felt safer.
She also suggested better lighting in the parks, but it was the video idea that got the most results.
Mayor Richard Moccia said there are already video cameras at Veteran’s Park and Calf Pasture Beach. Ryan Park has a portable camera, he said, but there are problems with sight lines and poor signal. Some people feel it’s an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t take photos of everyone, he said.
It would be nice to have a permanent camera in Ryan Park, he said. But Cranbury Park is too far away for a direct feed, he said.
Petrini pushed for a capital expenditure to install cameras and complimented Tanasia.
“I hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears,” he said. “… It would be worth the investment to see if it works on a smaller scale and then go from there. I commend you on all your ideas and your civic duty. I hope this body really pays attention and maybe get something going.”
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