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Eye in the sky watching over west Bronx

Bronx Times

Drug pushers, thieves and other criminals beware - the NYPD is adding more street eyes to ID you.

But it took some effort - akin to pulling teeth - by a local city councilman to get information from NYPD brass before he would fund putting 38 spy cameras at 19 locations throughout his west Bronx district.

Councilman Fernando Cabrera secured $1.6 million in discretionary funds for NYPD cameras to be installed throughout his 14th Council District, covering Kingsbridge, west Fordham, Morris and University Heights.

The cameras will be on 24/7, with police able to go back and review digital recordings of potential suspects fleeing crime scenes.

The cameras boast powerful zoom lenses that can read a cigarette pack from yards away.

The NYPD often works on its own to determine where cameras are to be installed, but Cabrera insisted on being part of the process, said Gregory Faulkner.

“The police commissioner makes the ultimate decision,” said Faulkner. “We had our issues with that because we were putting in the money, so we should have a say.”

Cabrera’s staff and NYPD brass met at One Police Plaza, hammering out where the cameras would be installed.

“They had mapped out where exactly the high crime areas were,” said Faulkner. “These were areas in need of assistance.”

But NYPD brass only shaded in the trouble spots instead of delineating the specific precinct sector, which police use to pinpoint specific trouble spots and the type of crimes being committed there.

The data is more specific than the NYPD’s weekly CompStat reports that tally both major and minor crime within an entire precinct.

Cabrera, opposed to NYPD’s lack of transparency on sector mapping, introduced a bill in 2011 that would force NYPD to post sector data on its website. The bill is now tied up in the Council, with Speaker Christine Quinn holding it up.

The 46th, 52nd, 50th and 44th Precincts all cover areas of Cabrera’s council district.

With the security camera project behind him, Cabrera is taking on the lack of security in three New York City Housing Authority complexes - the Marble Hill Houses, Fort Independence Houses and Bailey Houses.

He’s already set aside $700,000 for a layered access system of cameras, secure doors and improved security keys.

As for the new cameras coming to the district, at least one local, longtime Kingsbridge shop owner Jean Bass, said she’s not impressed by “eyes in the sky” tracking her.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” she said. “Too much Big Brother.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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