Keeping Another Eye On Our Community
Woodhaven needs NYPD surveillance cameras.
Time and again, cameras have proved helpful in solving crimes in our community and providing the police with valuable evidence.
Just last month, a package was stolen off the porch of a house in Woodhaven. The home had a security camera that recorded the crime, providing a clear view of the culprit’s face—and the fact that he had only one arm.
The thief hasn’t been caught yet, but the footage is extremely useful documentation. When the criminal is apprehended, it will be impossible for him to beat the rap.
A more vivid example arose in July of last year, when a woman was robbed, beaten and raped near Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven. A private security camera captured images of the dangerous thug responsible for the brutal crime. Thanks to the 102nd Precinct using the video, he was arrested within days, much to the neighborhood’s relief.
There are numerous other examples showing how useful security cameras can be.
In December last year, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven. The driver pulled over, saw he had struck someone, then fled the scene. Cameras in nearby businesses recorded the hit-and-run, providing the police with an important lead in the case.
Two years ago, 27-year-old Woodhaven resident Dario Paiva was knifed to death at the 85th Street J- train station. Police officers went into nearby businesses on Jamaica Avenue to see whether private security cameras had captured images of the assailants.
More recently, a rape occurred in neighboring Richmond Hill. Once again, a private security camera recorded images of the suspect, which were then used on posters distributed by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).
These examples are not meant to scare readers. Horrible crimes are the exception, not the rule, in this neighborhood. But it is in an urban setting, and it could always be made safer. At this point, there should be no question that video surveillance can help stop or solve crimes.
In each of these cases, private security cameras played important roles. They are, however, meant to protect specific homes or businesses, rather than the community at large. And for every crime that a private security camera records, there are probably several that go unrecorded.
If the aim is to ward off crime throughout the community, we cannot continue to rely on private security cameras. We need NYPD-monitored surveillance cameras.
If you take a walk down Fifth Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, you will see many “NYPD Security Camera” signs notifying passersby that the police are videomonitoring the vicinity. In that area and many others, NYPD security cameras are commonplace. It’s time for Woodhaven to get its fair share. We certainly would benefit from at least one such camera.
A person familiar with the operation of the Argus system, the cuttingedge video camera technology deployed by the NYPD, told the WRBA that they are extremely impressive— able to swivel and zoom in to provide high-quality footage of a suspect from blocks away. This is quite a contrast with private security cameras that are often fixed in place and have less zoom capability.
Argus units aren’t cheap. Each Argus camera costs approximately $17,000. But it would provide the community with valuable peace of mind. And if it solved or prevented even one serious crime, it would pay for itself. Putting an NYPD camera in Woodhaven passes the cost-benefit test.
The people of Woodhaven are simply asking for the same protection that other communities have received. We could use an NYPD Argus unit—and you don’t need a high-powered camera to see that.
Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is a member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For more information on the WRBA, visit www.woodhaven-nyc.org.