Rosenberg announces start of camera installation at French King Bridge

  • A test camera has been set up on the west side of the French King Bridge in Gill. Recorder File Photo

For the Gazette
Published: 10/21/2016 12:16:17 AM

GILL — To the delight of police and town officials in Gill and Erving, state Senate President Stan Rosenberg announced Wednesday that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will spend the next month installing cameras on the French King Bridge.

Local officials have said that cameras would help prevent suicides on the bridge and would allow authorities to know whether someone has jumped. When the bridge did not have cameras, emergency responders often searched the river for hours at great expense when it was merely suspected that someone had jumped.

Since the body of 24-year-old Tyler Hagmaier was discovered in the Connecticut River in May, a temporary camera has been in place on the bridge, according to Gill Police Sgt. Christopher Redmond. However, Redmond said two new cameras will be installed this month on either side of the bridge.

“It’ll solidify our rescue/recovery responses if we can confirm somebody did jump and it’ll get us a better timeline for suspicious vehicles on either side of the bridge,” Redmond said.

“These cameras are an essential tool to help our police and first responders handle incidents more quickly and efficiently,” Rosenberg said in a press release.

“Rosenberg and all our police officers were instrumental in securing funding,” Erving Board of Selectmen Chairman Jacob Smith said. “We’re all excited to see them installed … It’s something the town has been attempting to get implemented and put in place for many years.”

According to state Rep. Paul Mark, the camera installation is good news for not only Gill and Erving, but the surrounding communities who respond through mutual aid.

“These new cameras on the French King Bridge will help reduce unnecessary calls to Northfield and surrounding communities by eliminating the guesswork and giving first responders clear evidence they can rely on,” Mark said in the release.

Smith said Erving and Gill would share minor costs in maintaining the cameras.

Redmond said police would check the cameras when responding to an incident, and estimated the footage would be held for a month or a month and a half before being overridden, unless it was flagged for saving.

In addition, Massachusetts Department of Transportation District 2 Highway Director Patrick Paul stated in the release that “MassDOT is continuing its efforts to develop an enhanced permanent barrier system along the bridge that will be designed to increase safety at this location.”

Redmond previously told The Recorder he’s personally responded to at least 20 suspected jumper calls at the bridge in his three decades in law enforcement. However, Redmond said he doesn’t think the camera installation project will reduce the Gill Police Department’s call volume.

“I think that people in general only hear about actual suicides off the bridge,” Redmond said. “We probably have three or four times the number for people who threaten to jump off the bridge.”

John Ward, a member of the Gill Selectboard, said the camera installation project getting underway is a great step for Gill — with an important qualifier.

“More important than the cameras are finding ways to keep people from jumping in the first place,” he said.


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