In addition to the single entry and exit, the department has made strategic choices with many of its other tools: the license plate reader and camera are placed near the causeway to document all who enter, for example. And the license plate reader, by Remington ELSAG, reads the plates on cars coming into the community and runs them against a vast database to check for warrants, terrorist watches and more. The computer program will register an alert if any vehicle is flagged as being of interest to law enforcement, giving CIPD officers the chance to take action as necessary. The camera's placement also allows for the documentation of all who entered the village and when they entered — an invaluable tool for law enforcement in today's world.
Weiner notes that a unique feature of the village's geography also helps the department save money while allowing his department to implement a great strategic lead against potential criminal activity.
"Our jurisdiction is a peninsula, so there's one road in, and it's the same road out," Weiner says. "We have a great geographic opportunity to set up a stationary camera, versus the typical uses for license plate readers as mobile units. We've decided that we'll get a better bang for our dollar to place the equipment as stationary and capture 100 percent of the incoming traffic."
Given that there is only one road for incoming and outgoing traffic, the department is able to monitor all traffic with the use of only one camera, saving the department thousands of dollars in equipment without sacrificing the surveillance or the defensive benefits of the equipment, Weiner says.A cozy cape
Centre Island has about one officer on staff per 50 residents, which is more than four times the ratio of officers to citizens found in nearby New York City. It's also an asset to the department when it comes to familiarity and community watch.
With CIPD's nine-person shop, most of the officers recognize which incomers belong and who is new. When officers monitor the license plate reader, they can sort out which vehicles may be of more interest, an ability that would decrease as the sizes of the community and department grow.
"The people know who we are and we know most of them by name," Arnold says. "So, in the middle of the night when there's a car coming in that you don't know, you're going to take a little bit more interest in them because you know that they're not from the area. That's what a lot of good old fashioned police work is: knowing who's there and having them know you."
For their part, residents alert police of suspicious or unknown vehicles or people in the area, which reinforces the technological security of the village with community watch surveillance.The tool kit
CIPD has myriad technologies to utilize. In addition to laptops in its cruisers, CIPD also uses digital photography, TASER, night vision, Bluetooth scanning, and license plate reading technologies on top of traditional enforcement weapons such as batons, OC spray and firearms.
Peers describe Weiner as a very progressive chief. Since his introduction as chief in the community, he has transformed the department from an ordinary small-town agency (with out-of-the-ordinary residents) to a tech-savvy department that is recognized as one of the area's leaders in putting technology to work for law enforcement.
"Centre Island is a very influential village that pretty much stays state-of-the-art," says Vincent Tedesco, CEO of Total Computer Group (TCG), which created, licensed and operates the Total Enforcement (TE) system for law enforcement. "They're very progressive."
The TE software puts search and record capabilities in the hands of the officers on location, allowing them to electronically print tickets from the cruiser, search subject names or location addresses for contact history in the agency's own database, as well as other, consenting jurisdictions' databases, including systems not integrated with TE.
Weiner says for his community, the cost of the initial purchase of the TE system was "very reasonable." In addition, the annual maintenance fee figures at about $7,100 per year for the department's seven-year contract. The system was developed by a former Garden City, New York police officer, Al Perez, who is now the chief software architect for TCG. Perez says he was inspired to develop and herald advancing technologies in police departments after working with the legacy software that was standard in law enforcement.