Sunnyside to combat crime using cameras on 3 streets

By Nathan Duke

The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and local leaders hope the 12 cameras will act as a crime prevention tool in the area, following a Nov. 24 shooting at the New Post Coffee Shop, located at Queens Boulevard and 40th Street, that left a 47-year-old man dead. Crowley and community leaders said the cameras along Queens Boulevard will also assist police investigations by recording crimes as they take place.”These cameras are not just to assist in helping catch perpetrators of crimes, but also to deter those crimes from happening in the first place,” Crowley said. “It's a way to help residents feel safer in their neighborhoods.”Cameras will be installed on Queens Boulevard at 40th Street, 43rd Street and 46th Street, Crowley said. Four cameras will be installed at each site with two on either side of the street. The home base for the surveillance system will be in the kitchen of White Castle, at Queens Boulevard and 43rd Street.State Sen. George Onorato (D-Long Island City) said the system will assist police with anti-crime and terrorism initiatives and that signs will be posted notifying residents about the cameras.”When thieves see the cameras, they'll become wary of committing crime in the community,” he said.Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce President Jon Vogt said the federal funds are an initial grant for the project. He said cameras will also be placed near subway entrances in the area. He said the 12 cameras should be fully operational this week.Crowley said the new cameras are not being installed to eavesdrop on the Sunnyside community.”This is not an attempt to pry into the lives of anyone in this city or country,” he said. He said surveillance images will only be reviewed by authorities if an incident occurs within a camera's range. He said footage will otherwise not be regularly examined. Pat Driver, sales director of Westec Interactive – the company responsible for installing the cameras – said the system is able to zoom into footage recorded to better identify criminals caught on camera. Lily Gavin, owner of Dazie's Restaurant in Sunnyside and a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, said the cameras will help prevent incidents like the Nov. 24 shooting from occurring.”If we had the cameras up sooner, the police might have caught the perpetrator,” she said.No arrests have been made in the coffee shop shooting, police said. Witnesses told police at the time that the victim, Omar Castro, of 43-08 40th St., may have been arguing with the gunman in his apartment. The dispute likely spilled out in the street and then into the cafe, where Castro was shot, witnesses told police.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by email at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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