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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Cameras being installed across north country

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CANTON - In an effort to protect the northern border, federal authorities are installing cameras on utility poles to read license plates.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said the cameras are the same as those put up in major cities across the state.

Citing a recent news release from Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne, Sheriff Wells said the cameras were put up on public roadways and will help prevent a variety of crimes.

“This is something that’s common,” Sheriff Wells said.

Attempts to independently confirm the news release were not successful, and Mr. Champagne did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Andrew J. McMahon, superintendent of the Massena Electric Department, said he had a camera removed two weeks ago from a pole in the village after its wiring appeared to be causing a safety issue.

“We took it down and turned it over to police,” he said.

Mr. McMahon said the camera did not have an owner’s name on its box.

He said his employees have to regularly clear objects from poles whether it’s basketball hoops or lightpoles.

Cameras may also be popping up throughout the village of Massena based on conversations Mr. McMahon said he is having with Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.

“He wants to put them around playgrounds and other areas,” Mr. McMahon said.

But some say these cameras are intrusive to the daily lives of residents.

“This raises serious privacy concerns,” said Udi Ofer, advocacy director for the New York American Civil Liberties Union. “The greatest American right is the right to be left alone.”

Mr. Ofer said people have the right to live without fear the government is watching its residents.

“The government should not be building databases on its citizens,” he said.

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