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Bloomberg’s Public Housing Fingerprinting Idea Stuns, Infuriates Residents

Spokesman: Mayor To Propose Biometric Security -- An Electronic Sensor
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest crime-fighting idea had a lot of people riled up on Friday.

The mayor wants to fingerprint more than 600,000 people who live in public housing. He said it would be done to make the projects safer.

Bloomberg was responding to questions about Federal Judge Shira Schendlin’s ruling on the stop-and-frisk program when the topic shifted to security and the New York City Housing Authority. Bloomberg said there has to be a way to make the projects safer.

“Five percent of our population lives in NYCHA housing, 20 percent of the crime is in NYCHA housing – numbers like that. And we’ve just got to find some way to keep bringing crime down there. And we have a whole group of police officers assigned to NYCHA housing,” Bloomberg said. “The people that live there, most of them, want more police protection. They want more people. If you have strangers walking in the halls of your apartment building, don’t you want somebody to stop and say, ‘Who are you, why are you here?’”

But residents who live within the confines of NYCHA buildings said the mayor’s fingerprinting idea goes too far.

“That’s like invading someone’s privacy or something. Why you want to fingerprint somebody? It is bad enough you get arrested, you get finger printed, so why you want to fingerprint us? Now Bloomberg needs to get a job. Get out of here already. He’s done. Bloomberg is done,” Chelsea Houses resident Nino Alayon said.

“Why? For what? We live here all these years, I mean, what seems to be the problem? This is not jail,” added Deborah Gatling of the Chelsea Houses.

“I don’t feel that that’s right. Fingerprinted for what?” resident Alberta Hale added. “He wants to prove we [live] here. All he has to do is ask to see the lease. I don’t think it’s right. Bloomberg has to stop this mess.”

Needless to say, there was a lot of finger-pointing at Mayor Bloomberg on Friday. The notion of fingerprinting 620,000 people in public housing — even with the best of intentions of making buildings safer — caught a lot of New York City residents off guard.

“What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in, since there’s an allegation that some of the apartments aren’t occupied by the people who originally have the lease,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the fingerprinting is an excessive response to a possible problem of trespassing.

“I would submit that a very easy way to fix, that would be to actually make sure that NYCHA housing actually have functioning door locks and security systems. My understanding, having talked to a lot of tenants, is that’s a very big problem. You have broken doors, which anybody can open and close,” Charney said.

When asked if she would want to be stopped and fingerprinted to get into her house, Chelsea Houses resident Karen Hodges said, “No way. As long as I pay the rent I should be able to get in if you’re on the lease.”

“Even with the soda, he is ridiculous. I glad that he’s leaving. I’m very glad. Give the opportunity to somebody who thinks like us,” resident Stacey Quinones said.

The mayor’s spokesman said Bloomberg is proposing a biometric security measure — an electronic sensor instead of an ink pad.

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