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Precinct’s got eyes on you

Bronx Times

The 49th Precinct’s got a fresh set of eyes on Pelham Parkway and Allerton.

And Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson’s relieved to see them.

“I was shocked I got three,” admitted Johnson, who originally had asked for more. “I’m not complaining.”

He’s talking about the NYPD surveillance cameras installed at three locations around the mostly quiet precinct -- at Boston Road and Astor Avenue, Boston Road and Allerton Avenue, and Lydig and Holland avenues.

Earlier this year, Johnson requested a dozen cameras for areas where crime often occurs.

The NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) conducted the survey, consulting with then Four-Nine Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson, now working out of Bronx Borough Command.

Crime wasn’t so much the driving force behind the chosen locations, but rather quality of life issues, a major concern for folks.

“It was community complaints and graffiti, an overall complaint within the Four-Nine,” said Johnson.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca earmarked $140,000 in funds for the cameras, along with another in the 45th Precinct.

“The addition of security cameras can only better help our fight to keep crime off of our streets,” said Vacca.

As usual, the NYPD awarded the job to its regular contractor, Total Recall Corporation, a Rockland County-based firm, which installed the hi-tech “Crime Eye” cameras on Aug. 16.

“What it allows us to do is, they’re transmitted live to Patrol Borough Bronx,” said Johnson. “There’s a police officer who can monitor it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Footage is captured in color, encoded with a time stamp. One of the hallmarks to the Crime Eye is its zoom feature that clearly captures a person’s face from several yards away.

The NYPD has placed a heavier emphasis on cameras in recent years, having installed nearly 100 cameras throughout the Bronx this year alone.

The placement of these sophisticated sentinels also points to a lack of manpower within the NYPD, along with budgetary constraints, said Johnson.

“I think every commanding officer wishes they had more officers,” said Johnson. “But even if we had enough personnel, cameras still help.”

Several passersby didn’t even notice one camera affixed to the Shepherd Crook’s light pole by John and Joe’s Pizza on Lydig Avenue. Many welcomed it.

“It’s a great deterrent,” said Paulson Agwu, who just moved in to the Pelham Parkway neighborhood with his daughter. “The crime rate is too much, we have to monitor it.”

As for invasion of privacy, 12-year local Joseph Gonzalez scoffed at the Big Brother argument.

“There’s no reason for me to be concerned,” said Gonzalez. “I don’t commit crime.”

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

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