MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Nassau County police are taking a bold stance against crime in county parks by installing surveillance cameras.
They’re starting with the Massapequa Preserve, which has been the scene of several unnerving incidents over the last year.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the wooded oasis is a year-round magnet for joggers, bikers and families. But park goers say lately they have to watch their backs.
“I quit walking that side because of what’s going on over there,” one woman said.
“Your guard is down, and you’re relaxing out here, and all of a sudden a crazy person is coming out of the bushes,” a man added.
“If people are afraid to be in the preserve, that’s a major problem,” said Nassau County legislator Rose Walker. “We want to make sure that they stay safe.”
Police are now responding with more than increased patrols. They have installed a network of security cameras in and around the 400 acre preserve. Some are obvious while others are hidden.
“We will not give those locations. We are not giving the bad guy an education on what we are doing,” Acting Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. “But the message to be sent today to the bad guy is: We are watching.”
“He starts to eye me up and down, and look me around, and maintain this very aggressive, creepy eye contact with me,” one of the victims told Gusoff in October.
Police-monitored surveillance cameras were rolled out in New York City parks nearly a decade ago, but they have been slow to come to the suburbs. This will be their debut in Nassau County, and more county parks will follow.
Cameras place in the Village portion of the preserve recently helped nab a man who allegedly spray painted a swastika inside.
“Bottom line: cameras work and beware, we have them,” Mayor of Village of Massapequa Park Jeffrey Pravato said.
Police said they obviously can’t jump out of the cameras to make an arrest on the spot, but the day and night recordings will boost their ability to deter and solve crimes.
The camera roll-out costs $50,000 and is being funded by the Nassau County legislature. Each camera costs around $2,000.