NEW YORK—Two-and-a-half years after an 8-year-old boy was killed while walking home from summer camp near Borough Park, Brooklyn, the borough is set to get 320 extra security cameras.
New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind lobbied the state for funds to bring more security cameras to the area after young Leiby Kletzky’s death in July of 2011. Hikind was granted a $1 million budget to equip 80 sites in his district with four cameras at each site.
On Wednesday, Hikind was joined by other legislators and the contracted company Secure Watch24 for a press conference at J Avenue and Coney Island Avenue.
“I thought that getting these surveillance cameras throughout the community would protect our community in a greater way from crime,” said Hikind. “Just a block away from here there was a terrible tragedy, a person was hit by a car, killed. We have never apprehended the person responsible.”
The press conference was held in front of a TD Bank, also the site of two attempted robberies in the last two years.
Hikind stressed that the whole community would benefit from more cameras, which would both prevent crime and bring perpetrators to justice after the fact.
Because of the large, openly Jewish population in the area, Senator Simcha Felder says the area has seen a high incidence of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“These cameras should be made available everywhere, but particularly in this neighborhood, and these areas where we know that law enforcement has said that we have been targeted for terrorism,“ said Felder.
Secure Watch24, the company responsible for installing and maintaining the security cameras over the next three years, assured the media that no third parties would be monitoring the footage, only the NYPD. The feed would be sent directly to NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center and would not be used to police traffic, only crime.
Desmond Smyth, president and founder of Secure Watch24, said the footage would be retained anywhere from 10-30 days, depending on the camera.
Smyth has been working with the NYPD, community leaders, and Hikind’s office to decide the locations for the cameras. He estimates that if they install 10 a week, they could all be installed in the next eight months or sooner. So far twelve have been put up, including four at the intersection of Coney Island and Avenue J, where the press conference was held.
Manhattan has the largest network of security cameras so far, but Midwood and Borough Park are quickly catching up.
When asked why his district needed extra camera surveillance, Hikind said he hoped that every community could have the same resources.
“Everybody else wants these cameras as well, and by all means, why not?” said Hikind.” If Manhattan can have them because they help with security, why not every other community?”
When talking to residents of the area, the response was neutral.
“I’m all for it if the public has access to it [the footage] also. Maybe on the internet you can check the cameras,” said Brooklyn resident Leon Beda.
“The only way to prevent crime is by building up a child internally with good morality,” said Avraham Frank, leader of the “Moment of Silence” Initiative and a Brooklyn resident.
Holly Kellum is a special correspondent in New York.