Borough President Adams is using taxpayer dollars to install security cameras along Joralemon Street in tony Brooklyn Heights, where residents claim vandals and crooks have been targeting their houses since the stretch became a popular entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park — and they’re hoping the recorders will make people think twice before breaking the law.
“This is a street that was not originally planned as being the gateway into and out of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but has become the de facto entrance to the park and it has suffered the consequences,” said Peter Bray, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “There’s a potential there for having a deterrent effect.”
The Beep approached the civic group and offered to allocate an as-yet-to-be-determined amount of money for new filming devices along the stretch as an residential expansion of his “Operation Safe Shopper” program, in which he funds cameras on commercial stretches, according to Bray.
Locals living along the brownstone-lined strip demanded the park pay for cameras last summer after they claimed youths walking to and from the green space’s popular basketball courts — who are often, but by no means exclusively, people of color — had flooded the street and made them feel unsafe.
Crime statistics didn’t actually show a spike in assaults or burglaries at that time — and figures for those crimes have stayed steady so far this year — although there has been a surge in shoplifting at the corner of Court Street, and the Police Department’s online database doesn’t provide data on vandalism or general harassment.
And there have been some high-profile crimes there — in July, a brute sucker-punched a 65-year-old man as he was walking home at night.
Police closed the basketball courts at Pier 2 several times last year due to fights amongst teens, including one where a 20-year-old fired a gun. It also called time-out on the hoops haven last week, sending swarms of ballers onto Joralemon Street, said Bray.
The 84th Precinct added extra police officers to patrol the park last year, but homeowners maintain that cameras are needed to keep an eye on people walking along the street.
The Beep’s office couldn’t give out any numbers or a price-tag on the project while it irons out the final details, but Bray said the plan is to install 10–20 cameras on local homes along the full length of the strip from Furman Street to Court Street.
Last year, Adams allocated $2,500 apiece for business groups in Crown Heights, Coney Island, Fort Greene, Park, Slope, and Brownsville to buy cameras for local storefronts when rolling out the “Safe Shopper” program.
Borough Hall will cover most of the costs from the public coffers, but the Brooklyn Heights Association is also footing part of the bill and will ask homeowners to pay the rest.
The residents will own the footage captured from cameras on their buildings but must allow police to access the footage when they need it, according to Bray.
The civic group is still waiting for finalize the agreement, but will begin reaching out to locals to find people willing to host the devices once the deal is sealed, and hopes to have them installed by the warmer months, according to Bray.