$1 Million Brooklyn Suveillance Camera Program Stalls

By Reuven Blau and Rocco Parascandola (NY Daily News)
August 15, 2012

A state-funded program expected to put 150 cameras in two Brooklyn neighborhoods has been stalled amid concerns that police may not have access to the footage of certain crimes, sources said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind and state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos announced in May a $1 million initiative named after a Borough Park boy who was abducted and murdered last summer.

Hikind tapped Agudath Israel, a powerful organization of Orthodox Jews, to administer the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative. The group has been criticized for arguing that a rabbi must grant permission before authorities are notified of a sex abuse accusation.

The controversial stance helped fueled concerns over who might monitor the cameras in Borough Park and Midwood and whether video of crimes caught on the cameras would be shared with police.

Agudath Israel didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said police will have unrestricted access to video. “Obviously, it has to be someone in law enforcement,” he said. One political insider said the security plan “is stuck as a result of concerns with the organization running it.”

“Most people are trying to figure out why these funds just don’t go to the NYPD,” the insider said.

Sources said Shomrim, a volunteer civilian patrol in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, was once considered a possibility to run the camera program. The group backed out because it doesn’t have enough resources.

In a recent interview with The Jewish Daily Forward, Jacob Daskal, who coordinates Shomrim in Borough Park, said cameras work best “if it’s a private thing.”

“If it’s a public thing, it might hurt a person who doesn’t want to arrest her husband for domestic violence,” he said.

The NYPD bristled at any suggestion that footage from security cameras wouldn’t be shared with police. “We don’t think there should be any filter between the police and a victim of a crime or evidence of a crime,’’ said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman. “If there’s a crime, we’ll decide.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who has been criticized for not releasing the names of suspects in sex abuse cases in the Orthodox community, declined to comment specifically on the camera controversy.