2009-10-09 / Editorial/Opinion

Hallway Cameras Not The Answer To Homicides

Although crime is down throughout the city, the shooting incidents and homicides in Rockaway, particularly in the eastern portion of the peninsula, continue unabated. In mid-July, a young man was shot in the elbow. In late August, two men were shot and killed only two blocks apart in the central portion of the peninsula. In early October, several shots were fired from a housing project at a passing police car. The ongoing response to the shooting violence has been, we believe, a weak one. City Councilman James Sanders Jr. is the City Councilman who represents the area. Michelle Titus is the district's Assemblywoman. State Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm Smith represents all of Rockaway. Congressman Gregory Meeks is the area's federal representative. All of those politicians have kept a low profile on the myriad of shootings and shooting deaths over the past two years, although most of them were involved in a tri-level commission to investigate the Sean Bell case. The one response has come from Sanders, and that is to find the money to put cameras inside the hallways of the Redfern, Hammel and Carleton Manor houses. Those cameras begin recording when a shot is fired in the vicinity. Very nice, but hardly a response that will stop the deaths of young, black men and women at the hands of other young, black men. It is easy to spend money on cameras and to blame the police for not adequately patrolling the city housing projects and to blame the economy, the schools and racism for the problem. It is harder to address the real reasons: the drug use that leads to drug gangs and drug wars; the lack of education that comes from a community that down-values education; a continuing mantra from those politicians that the cops and courts are "white" and therefore cannot be trusted; a refusal to pass real gun possession laws; a continuing mantra from those politicians that black people are "victims" and will not be allowed to rise in society no matter what they do; and the belief on the part of the politicians that getting reelected is all that matters and that the community will continue to reelect them no matter what they do on this issue. City Councilman Leroy Comrie recently wrote, "While [politicians] have continuously funded local at-risk youth and gang prevention programs, the ability of young people to obtain firearms and settle their petty disputes with bullets continues to overwhelm our communities." He is right, but when was the last time you heard something like that from our local pols?

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