Sunset Park loves surveillance

Ridgites seek spy cameras on Fifth Avenue
Eye in the sky: Ridge residents say their neighborhood needs a police security camera like this one at Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park in Forth Greene.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Sunset Park residents asked for it and they are getting it — more government surveillance.

Neighborhood denizens were invited to pick a municipal project to fund from an array of neighborhood beautification and social service options as part of the so-called “participatory budgeting” process and their number one priority was installing more surveillance cameras on Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth avenues between 42nd and 62nd streets. The measure will make would-be smooth criminals feel like someone is watching them, said a facilitator of the voting.

“When people try to commit a crime, they will think twice, and this will help scare away potential suspects,” Jimmy Li said.

The fact that 1,890 people voted to have their every move monitored by eyes in the sky, more people than favored any other initiative on the table, proves once again that Brooklyn loves surveillance despite growing concerns worldwide about spy agencies trampling basic privacy. The borough’s pro-government-monitoring climate was made clear last year by a poll showing that four out of five borough residents favor more cameras.

The $600,000 Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) plans to put toward the police-controlled devices is 10 times the amount he will allot for a community room in the Sunset Park library branch.

Residents voted from March 30 to April 6 about how to dispense more than $2 million. The results were announced on April 15 at the Red Hook library branch, which is getting $85,000 for its community garden thanks to the vote.

The number and location of the cameras is still being worked out with residents and police precincts, a spokesman for Menchaca said.

The owner of a bicycle shop on Seventh Avenue near 47th Street said he only sees crime every once in a while, but that he will feel safer constantly being filmed.

“It’s great to be proactive rather than reactive,” said Mr. C’s Cycles owner Carlos Valentino, who has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years. “Obviously, I will welcome it.”

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.

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