“The installation of these surveillance cameras is an essential part to ensuring residents feel safer in their own community,” Richards said. “With the combined residents, elected officials, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the New York Police Department (NYPD), we can continue to crack down on crime and work together to find a solution where everyone can enjoy a higher quality of life.”
Richards said that the area around the Ocean Bay Houses has struggled with violence, and while they know who most of the actors are, the cameras will help the police department.
He anecdotally shared that in another part of Rockaway – the first day security cameras were installed – they caught someone stealing Dominos’ Pizza from a delivery driver.
So while the cameras are not a be-all, end-all, they will certainly help.
“The cameras are not going to solve every issue of crime in the community,” Richards said. “They’re a deterrent.”
In addition to the violence, the area is well-known as a hotbed of drug activity. And while it has subsided in recent years, elected officials are committed to making it a safe area for residents to sit outside and enjoy a nice day or for kids to be able to play in the community without fear.
“I remember when the best place to purchase drugs in our community was that corner, right there,” Senator James Sanders Jr. said, pointing to the corner of Beach 54th Street and Beach Channel Drive. “That was the largest drug supermarket in the Rockaways.”
Directly adjacent to the corner is the Far Rockaway Police Department.
Richards called on more community involvement to help alleviate the problems, but acknowledged that it’s difficult for the community to speak up, as they are often scared. In that sense, the cameras will help.
“There are eyes here,” Richards said. “Even when the community is scared to speak up, you will be caught.”
Richards wouldn’t reveal where the cameras are, as he expects some will have to find out the hard way.
The $500,000 investment is the latest by Richards to increase the safety and security of residents in his district.
Last year, he allocated $900,000 to complete CCTV installations on the bay side of the complex, and in the past he’s worked to have cameras installed at the Hammels and Beach 41st NYCHA houses.
Work on this most recent project is expected to be fully completed by October. When complete, the project will include a total of 34 cameras with 17 on the interior and 17 on the exterior of the seven buildings.
“It looks like the hardware is already installed, all we need are the cameras,” said Tenant Association President Ronald Sullivan. “It’s one step closer to making the community safer.”