NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – In a city that’s ramped up surveillance since the 9/11 attacks, the next big installation of security cameras is not in the bustle of midtown Manhattan or near a well-known tourist attraction, but in a leafy section of Brooklyn known for its low crime and large Hasidic Jewish population.
A hundred security cameras will be installed on public lampposts throughout the Midwood and Borough Park neighborhoods in the coming months – the result of a $1 million state grant secured in the wake of a horrifying tragedy — the 2011 abduction, dismemberment and murder of an 8-year-old Hasidic boy named Leiby Kletzky.
The taxpayer-funded security system will augment an already insular ultra-Orthodox community that has its own volunteer police force, ambulances and schools.
“This was a one-time initiative as a result of what happened,” said Rabbi David Tanenbaum, executive director of community services for Agudath Israel, the umbrella nonprofit group for the Hasidic community that is the beneficiary of the grant. “They looked for a reaction to a terrible tragedy, not for the area that might have necessarily needed it the most.”
The Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, as it is called, was announced by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind and state Sen. Dean Skelos a year after the gruesome killing of the boy, whose body parts were found in a freezer and inside a red suitcase tossed into the trash.
“Whenever there’s a terrorist threat in America, the Jewish community gets more attention than anyone,” Hikind told CBS 2’s Tamara Leitner. “If we had these cameras, we would have known where Leiby was almost immediately,” said Hikind.
Kletzky’s murder was never linked to anti-Semitism. Levi Aron, an Orthodox Jew, was sentenced last summer to 40 years to life in prison in the death of Kletzky.
The boy asked Aron for directions and Aron promised to take him home but instead eventually suffocated him inside his apartment. Aron said later that he killed the boy when he saw the missing-person posters amid a massive police search and got nervous. He was caught, in part, after detectives pieced together security footage of Leiby’s walk home.
Some in the Brooklyn neighborhoods due to get the cameras said they’re in favor of the extra security.
“I think they should do it,” one man said.
“Why not? Keep the community safe, what could be wrong with that? We had a rotten story here, a kid got killed and let’s keep the rest of our kids safe,” a Borough Park resident told Leitner.
But some critics argue the cameras could be put to better use in our neighborhoods where there is more crime.
“Cameras are much needed here in our community,” Brooklyn community activist Tony Herbert told Leitner.
He said securing the grant money came down to politics and better lobbying.
“We’ve got a lot of threats here in central Brooklyn where we’re dealing with gang and gun violence,” Herbert said.
Brownsville residents like Sterling Silver said the cameras would be put to good use in his high-crime neighborhood.
“It always seems like they’re doing more in the better communities, that’s evident. I think they need more security around here,” Silver told Leitner.
“I know that some communities outside are saying ‘why not us?’ And I’m saying ‘you’re right. Talk to your elected officials, talk to your government,'” said Hikind.
The cameras will be monitored and controlled by a private security company. As a result, the police will have to ask for permission if they want to access the footage.
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