Cameras at Redfern made to track shots – QNS.com

Cameras at Redfern made to track shots

Far Rockaway residents gather at the Redfern Houses in May in memory of Brandon Bethea, a 15−year−old who was killed at the housing project.
By Howard Koplowitz

Following the murders of two teenagers at the Redfern Houses within three days of each other last summer, the city Housing Authority is set to equip the Far Rockaway housing project with high−tech security cameras that only take pictures when a gun is fired, City Councilman James Sanders (D−Laurelton) said.

Sanders said the cameras are part of elected officials’ “fight−back plan against the crime taking place in the community.”

“Since the death of young Brandon Bethea … everyone’s wanted to try to make a difference,” the councilman said in a phone interview Monday.

Brandon Bethea, a 15−year−old Jamaica girl and former Redfern resident, was walking in the housing project’s courtyard May 17 when she was hit in the temple by a stray bullet. Two days later, 16−year−old Tyreece Johnson was shot in the head as he stood outside a bodega near Redfern. Both died.

Sanders, who secured a $2 million grant for the Housing Authority to install the cameras, said two types of surveillance will be used.

One is a passive system of cameras that runs 24 hours and rewinds if no crimes were committed during that period. Sanders called this type of system “late 20th−century technology.”

The other type, Sanders said, uses so−called “gunshot technology” and snaps photos when a gun goes off.

“This technology is used to hear and identify a gunshot,” the councilman said, noting these types of cameras are used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cameras feed the pictures to the 100th Precinct, which can then send the photos to a laptop inside the squad car patrolling Redfern, Sanders said.

“You can get a picture of the culprit within a minute,” the councilman said. “Instead of police arriving long after the gun has been fired … they arrive on the spot with a picture.”

Sanders said the cameras will be placed in areas that make them hard to be damaged, but “close enough to take a picture of everyone’s pearly whites.”

“If you do decide to break the law and fire an illegal weapon, I encourage you to have your best smile on so when your wanted poster comes out, it will look good,” he said.

If the cameras are successful, Sanders said, they will be installed at other Far Rockaway locations.

“We’re not going to simply stop at the Redfern Houses,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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