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State grant for $1,9 million funded border cameras

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CANTON — The cameras that have popped up around the north country to track drug smuggling came from a $1.9 million grant given by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

About a dozen were installed throughout St. Lawrence, Clinton and Franklin counties in March.

According to a one-page memo provided by Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, the grant originated in the state Office of Homeland Security.

When the cameras were noticed last month, little information was given as to why they were there or where they came from. It took days for Mr. Owens’s office to figure out whether it was border-related.

Law enforcement officials said the cameras are the same as those employed by larger cities in the state.

The images are stored in a database in Franklin County and District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said any law enforcement agency can access the photographs online.

Although the cameras’s purpose is to link smuggling cases back to the north country, Mr. Champagne credits them to solving two burglaries.

“We’ve received less than a handful of calls about it from constituents,” said Sean Magers, a spokesman for Mr. Owens.

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