Sunday, July 15, 2012

Over $40 million allotted for NYC security cameras, but boneheaded Housing Authority does not use it.

 Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 15, 2012

NYCHA has sat on the money while deciding what to install and where. Tenants at public housing, where shootings have seen a double-digit spike, say inaction is mind-boggling.

Updated: Friday, July 13, 2012, 3:00 AM









Front page of the Friday, July 13, 2012 New York Daily News.

In the city’s sketchiest housing projects, crime and fear are on the rise, but money to protect the residents has been tied up in red tape.
More than $40 million has been designated for security cameras in city projects over the last eight years, but no cameras have been installed due to foot-dragging by the New York City Housing Authority.
“They’ve just been sitting on that money without doing anything with it? That’s an outrage,” said Jose Rivera, whose 3-year-old son Isaiah was shot last week during a gun battle at the Roosevelt Houses in Brooklyn. “That’s totally outrageous.”
Twelve cameras cover Roosevelt’s nine buildings over four city blocks, none of which are monitored 24 hours a day. And Isaiah’s building has no cameras at all.
All told, $42 million in taxpayer money earmarked by politicians for cameras has accumulated since 2004. But NYCHA has sat on the money while trying to figure out exactly what to install — and where.
Last year, the housing agency froze the City Council funds so it could create a task force to develop a full-time, coordinated monitoring system for its 334 projects.
The panel recently identified 80 crime-plagued projects desperate for cameras. As of this week, not a single one from the $42 million kitty was up and running.
“They need to put them here,” Rivera said, speaking in his apartment as a recovering Isaiah played at his feet. “It might prevent what happened. It would make this building a lot safer. There’s a lot of drug peddling in the building. I’d like for there to be cameras. This has to stop.”
When Officer Brian Groves was shot at the Seward Park Houses last week, a bullet-resistant vest saved his life. Security cameras could have identified the gunman, but they won’t be installed until next year. The shooter remains at large.
“Please, we need the cameras now,” pleaded Carmen Orta, 71, a tenant at the high-crime development on the lower East Side. “If we had the cameras, they would know who shot that cop. He would be in jail already.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the red tape puts residents in danger.
“When money for security upgrades is staring the Housing Authority in the face and they don’t act, it puts everybody at risk,” Stringer said.
In February 2011, Stringer set aside $400,000 for cameras in the Baruch Houses on the lower East Side after tenants opened an elevator to find the body of Jomali Morales, 42. She was dead after someone stabbed her 11 times.
Police never got a clear image of her attacker. There were no cameras, even though residents had long demanded them. And 16 months after Stringer set aside the money, criminals can still operate without fear of cameras.