In A First For The Area, Affluent Hewlett Harbor Working To Recruit All 440 Homes To Join 'Operation Private Eyes' Initiative

HEWLETT HARBOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a crime fighting first for our area.

A village on Long Island has launched what it called “Operation Private Eyes.” It’s putting front-door camera technology to work community-wide, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.

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They’re here, there, and everywhere.

Front-door cameras, capturing images and alleged criminals.

Now, affluent Hewlett Harbor is ringing in the technology in a first on Long Island. A letter is urging residents in all 440 homes to to install door bell-camera technology to collectively deter crime.

Ring Smart Doorbell Camera (credit: CBS2)

“We are creating a virtual block watch network,” Hewlett Harbor Mayor Marc Weiss said. “Years ago, people used to look out their window. Now, you don’t even have to be home to see what’s going on in front of your house.”

It’s a different take on community surveillance. Street cameras and license plate readers allow police monitoring. That model may lower crime but raises privacy concerns.

“We are being watched all over the place,” one person said.

“There is no such thing as privacy anymore,” another added.

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Hewlett Harbor’s initiative is called “Operation Private Eyes” because participation is voluntary. Each resident controls their own video and decides when and if to share it with neighbors and law enforcement.

“We felt this was the best option because it allowed us to be in control of the information people captured on their camera,” Weiss said.

“It’s still a relatively new technology and, like me, I was a little apprehensive,” resident Alan Dorman said.

But Dorman said he will upgrade to the doorbell camera.

When used collectively, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder calls it a crime fighting game changer.

“If there is a crime, they’ll contact us and then we’ll go pull the video,” Ryder said. “That video will make our lives a lot easier. If everybody got on board with joining some kind of technology to put cameras out there, it makes our lives better.”

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Residents will be given a discount code to purchase devices. The village is urging full participation.

Hewlett Harbor has one of the lowest crime rates in Nassau County. The mayor said this initiative is aimed at keeping it that way.

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Village officials considered street-mounted cameras, but decided this option offered more privacy and cost less.