By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
with Associated Press
The $1 million Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, in which the largely Orthodox Jewish areas of Midwood and Borough Park will receive 150 street security cameras, could be up and running within two months, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents these areas, said yesterday.
The initiative was named after 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who was abducted, suffocated, drugged and dismembered after he disappeared on his way home from a religious day camp in July 2011. Kletzky’s father was at the ceremony announcing the program on Sunday, although he did not speak.
Hikind added that the program was also partly motivated by the anti-Semitic incidents that sometimes plague Midwood and Borough Park. For example, in January, the Eagle reported, three swastikas were found painted on a driveway on Avenue L; two more swastikas were painted on the door of an apartment building on Fifth Street; and two swastikas were found scrawled on the Yeshiva of Brooklyn building on Ocean Parkway and Avenue L.
Locations for the cameras, each of which have four lenses and can cover several blocks, are still being determined. However, Hikind anticipated that many will be placed on major streets such as 13th Avenue, Avenue J and Avenue M.
The cameras were obtained with a state grant through the efforts of Hikind and state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), and the project will be administered by Agudath Israel, an ultra-Orthodox communal organization. Information will be shared with the Shomrim, a Jewish community patrol, as well as with the NYPD, Hikind added.
Hikind called for more surveillance cameras as early as last July, when he, fellow Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Bensonhurst/Bath Beach) and state Senator Diane Savino (D-Southwest Brooklyn/Staten Island) introduced legislation that would have granted a $500 annual tax credit to property owners who purchase, install and maintain surveillance cameras.
And in 2005, Hikind secured $1.2 million for the MTA to purchase 120 closed-circuit television cameras that were placed in nine subway stations on the N, D and F lines within his district.
The announcement of the program did not come without criticism. For example, on the comment page of the New York Daily News’ reporting of this story, “Rundino” said, “May the kid rest in peace, but this is not playing fair. What about high-crime areas that really need the state’s cooperation?”
Similarly, “Beautiful Browneyes” said, “My heart broke last year when little Leiby went missing and was later found dead, yet kids in all types of NY neighborhoods go missing every day and the city does nothing to install more cameras in those neighborhoods.”
Told of such criticisms, Hikind responded, “We hope everyone will recognize how useful it is. We’re starting here, and hopefully other communities that need it will also adopt it. I would tell those people to get it done in their neighborhoods as well.”