Long-Sought Money Set For Installation Of Redfern Cameras
Nearly one year after a 15-year-old girl was shot while attending a party at the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, a plan has been put in motion to install $2 million worth of surveillance cameras at the sprawling New York City Housing Authority development.
On Monday, Councilman James Sanders Jr. presented NYCHA's chairman Ricardo Morales and tenant association president Doris Jacobs with a $2 million check utilizing public funds he secured for the often-dangerous housing complex.
"There will be a camera system, in the sense of your typical cameras watching, but in some of the hot spots and some of the more troubled areas we will have gunshot technology," said Sanders.
Gunshot technology, according to Sanders, is among the latest technology available.
"It's so sophisticated that if you fire a gun, the cameras will come on and take a picture of you in two seconds," continued Sanders. "[The technology} is straight out of Iraq."
[img_assist|nid=230|title=|desc=It's all smiles as Sanders presents Morales and Jacobs with the $2 million check. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg |align=right|width=250|height=208|link=node]Also present at the ceremony was Congressman Gregory Meeks who, like Sanders, is a product of the city's public housing.
"By delivering for the people of Redfern he's [Sanders] delivering for the people of Rockaway because this is a pilot program, and it gives the message that you have someone who is fighting here," said Meeks, who added that the talent for the future is in public housing.
"The key with the cameras is making it safer, but it's also saving lives. And if we can save lives and make the condition within public housing safer and people feeling better, then we can educate our young people … because if we're going to continue to lead and be able to compete with all the other countries around the world then we're going to have to educate our young," said Meeks.
NYCHA has put more than 5,000 cameras in its buildings over the last few years. During the next year and a half 1,200 more cameras will be installed.
[img_assist|nid=228|title=|desc=Congressman Gregory Meeks, second from left, stopped by Redfern Houses on his way to Washington to help celebrate the acquisition of the long-awaited funds. Also pictured are TA president Doris Jacobs, NYCHA chair Ricardo Morales and Councilman James Sanders Jr. |align=left|width=250|height=219|link=node]"Two million dollars invested in Redfern will bring us 141 cameras in nine buildings, with a balance of technology that's just extraordinary for public housing for two-fold safety and crime reduction because of the crimes that's happened here," said Morales.
The chairman praised the collaboration between the legislature and City Council to bring cameras to the development and bring back its community center.
"They [the legislature] said that somewhere we have to draw a line in the sand where we stop the tragedies, where safety comes along and also the youths have a place to go," said Morales. "Without the community center here the alternatives are a prisoner in your house or alternatives in the street."
Jacobs has led Redfern residents in their quest for the cameras. "I'm just happy to have this," said Jacobs. "I will be much happier when they start installing them."
[img_assist|nid=231|title=|desc=Morales said the legislature, by approving the cameras and community center, drew a line in the sand to stop the tragedies at Redfern Houses. |align=right|width=182|height=250|link=node]A spokesman for NYCHA said that the planning stage for the project should begin in July. The actual installation should be complete by August 2010.
"There's a lot of work to do if we want to do it right," said Marder.
Those living at Redfern have experienced several false starts trying to get surveillance cameras over the last couple of years.
As The Wave reported in April 2007 State Senator Malcolm Smith, now majority leader of the Senate, promised the funds necessary to purchase cameras. The cameras never did materialize. At a press conference after the death of Brandon Bethea, Jacobs told reporters that, "The tenants in the Redfern Houses have been asking for cameras to be installed on the premises for some time. [These are the] same cameras we have been promised for years."
[img_assist|nid=229|title=|desc=Following the press conference, Morales joined Sanders, Jacobs and other residents for a tour of the development to check out nesting birds that make their homes over a park in the complex. |align=left|width=250|height=185|link=node]Sanders originally announced the $2 million last July, but according to a representative for NYCHA, there is always a lag time, a budget process, between when money is announced and work actually begins.
"Until it is actually in our account we don't start doing anything," said Howard Marder of NYCHA. "We've been planning all along. Now we have to put out an RFP [Request for Proposal] for cameras, backup equipment and putting it all together."
The new cameras will act as a deterrent, a record of events in Redfern Houses and as evidence, should a crime occur.
"We've had several tragedies between Stacks Bundle and others," said Sanders, at the March 23 press conference. "The latest was Brandon Bethea, who was minding her own business and was slain."
He added, "There will be no more hiding for those who want to endanger the lives of their neighbors."