With $1 million of public money, a private firm is installing 100 surveillance cameras on lampposts around Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.
The move, which has prompted privacy concerns from residents, came following the brutal abduction and murder last year of 8-year-old Jewish boy, Leiby Kletzky.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) announced the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative — with a $1 million state grant to Agudath Israel, a nonprofit group that hired the private firm SecureWatch24 to operate the network.
The surveillance cameras were necessary, officials said, so residents would feel safe in the belief that such a horrible crime would never happen again.
The Daily News' Donna Lieberman stressed the worrying president the security cameras set both in terms of privacy protections and the use of public funds by private firms for policing initiatives:
It is understandable that these Brooklyn communities want additional security — but the arrangement sets a terrible precedent.
... Tragic events are often invitations to bad policy judgments. And that is what’s happening here.
First, there is no conclusive research establishing that cameras deter crime (though they do make it easier to solve some crimes after the fact).
Yet untold numbers of cameras have gone up around the city in the years since the 9/11 attacks in the belief they will do exactly that.
Meantime, the cameras catch New Yorkers, at all hours of the day, every day of the year, living their lives — doing everything from walking the dog to visiting a psychiatrist, going into a gay bar or enjoying a romantic interlude. These are all perfectly legal activities, yet we have no idea what becomes of the captured images.