By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The area in and around Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue is going to be a lot safer once the New York Police Department installs new hi-tech Argus surveillance cameras on the shopping strip, Councilman Vincent Gentile predicted.
“It could solve crimes very quickly,” said Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), who obtained funding in the city budget for the purchase of three of the cameras for Fifth Avenue – at 72nd, 76th and 82nd Streets. Suspects seen committing crimes on camera are subject to prosecution. “The film can be introduced as evidence in the case,” Gentile, a former assistant district attorney, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Bay Ridge is one of several communities around the city where council members have successfully pushed for funding for the Argus cameras. New York City currently has 315 of the devices on the streets, the bulk of them, 145, located in Manhattan. The cameras are stored in large white boxes depicting the NYPD logo and are placed approximately 20 feet above ground. The city installed the first of the cameras in 2006.
The New York Post reported in March that the cameras have proven they can be used to solve crimes. Images captured by the Argus cameras have been used as evidence in dozens of criminal cases, the Post reported.
Gentile said he worked with the NYPD to select the locations where the cameras will be installed in his district. Fifth Avenue is a natural fit for the cameras, he said. “There have been complaints about gang activity and drug related activity on Fifth Avenue,” he said, adding that complaints came from store owners and residents alike. Fifth Avenue is one of Brooklyn’s most popular shopping strips, with hundreds of shops and restaurants.
The hi-tech cameras will keep a watchful eye on the neighborhood, Gentile said. Each location will have cameras pointed in four different directions, he said. “What is really great is that the camera can zoom in along the avenue and down the side streets very quickly. These are not just run-of-the-mill cameras. If a person thinks they can get away with committing a crime on a side street and thinks the camera won’t detect it, they’ll be mistaken,” he said. “The side streets can be covered,” he added.
The cameras are also hi-definition, Gentile said. The camera can show what a person is holding in his or her hand even if the person is more than 50 yards away.
The councilman said he believes the Argus cameras will serve as a crime deterrent. “If you know you’re being watched at all times, you’ll think twice about breaking into a store or picking someone’s pocket,” he said.
Gentile said he’s not concerned about vandalism. It would be next to impossible for someone to damage the devices, he said. “The cameras are encased. The NYPD assures us that they are virtually indestructible,” he said.