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Borough Park, NY - Big Camera Installation Set For Hasidic Neighborhood Where Leiby Kletzky Was Murdered

Published on: September 22, 2013 12:30 PM
By: AP
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One of the new surveillance placed at Chase Manhattan Bank on 13th Ave.Borough Park, NY - In a city that’s ramped up surveillance since the 9/11 attacks, the next big installation of security cameras is not in the bustle of midtown Manhattan or near a well-known tourist attraction but in a leafy section of Brooklyn known for its low crime and large Orthodox Jewish population.

A hundred security cameras will be installed on public lampposts throughout the Midwood and Borough Park neighborhoods in the coming months — the result of a $1 million state grant secured in the wake of a horrifying tragedy: the 2011 abduction, dismemberment and murder of an 8-year-old Hasidic boy named Leiby Kletzky.

The taxpayer-funded security system will augment an already insular Orthodox community that has its own volunteer police force, ambulances and schools.

“This was a one-time initiative as a result of what happened,” said Rabbi David Tanenbaum, executive director of community services for Agudath Israel, the umbrella nonprofit group for the Hasidic community that is the beneficiary of the grant. “They looked for a reaction to a terrible tragedy, not for the area that might have necessarily needed it the most.”

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The Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, as it is called, was announced by state Assemblyman Dov Hikind and state Sen. Dean Skelos a year after the gruesome killing of the boy, whose body parts were found in a freezer and inside a red suitcase tossed into the trash.

According to state documents, the grant will pay for the 100 cameras to be installed and maintained by Secure Watch 24, a private security firm, which will keep the recorded data for up to five years. The grantee is an LLC effectively controlled by Agudath Israel, which has lobbied many state and city officials on a host of issues.

But some have questioned whether there is a need for cameras in an area where crime is considerably lower than in other parts of the city.

“It’s who you know and who you can get to pull the purse strings to come to your rescue,” said Tony Herbert, a community advocate in Brooklyn who speaks out against gun violence in high-crime neighborhoods like Brownsville. “All we can do is jump up and down and make some noise to put a fire under the feet of our elected officials.”

In the 66th precinct, where Leiby’s slaying occurred, there were no homicides reported last year and only one so far in 2013. That’s compared to 14 homicides last year and seven this year just 6 miles away in the 73rd precinct in Brownsville.

But Hikind insists the cameras are necessary in the Jewish neighborhoods, where he said the potential for crime — if not actual crime — was ever-present.

“It’s not that we have more crime than another community, but being that it’s a Jewish area, there’s probably at least the potential for more anti-Semitic acts,” he said.

Anti-Semitism played no role in Leiby’s death.

The boy was abducted by Levi Aron — a member of the Orthodox community, though not Hasidic — who lived in the same general area. The boy asked him for directions and Aron promised to take him home but instead eventually suffocated him inside his apartment. Aron said later that he killed the boy when he saw the missing-person posters amid a massive police search and got nervous. He was caught, in part, after detectives pieced together security footage of Leiby’s walk home.

Aron pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping and is serving 40 years to life in prison.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks New York City has acquired thousands of security cameras, funded mostly through federal homeland security grants or by private companies and placed predominantly near iconic Manhattan locations and the World Trade Center site.

Civil libertarians have raised privacy concerns about the proliferation of cameras, in general, and the Leiby Kletzky initiative specifically.

Access to and management of the cameras in Brooklyn was not entirely clear. The New York Police Department referred all questions about the security system to Secure Watch 24, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Hikind said police and volunteer police groups would have access to the cameras after a significant crime only by making formal requests to Secure Watch 24.

“God forbid something happens, there’s an incident, the police will have access to the video tape,” he said.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said she was concerned that a private company would be managing a state-funded camera network placed on public property.

“I’ve never heard of the city farming out surveillance power like this,” she said. “This horrific crime generated enormous pain in the community, but it’s naive to think that a network of surveillance cameras is the answer to fears for the safety of our children.”

In Borough Park, where the memory of Leiby’s killing is still fresh, residents were generally supportive of the cameras despite any privacy concerns.

“You always have to compromise for the greater interest of being secure,” said Leon Eisner, 65. “It’s such a tight community we have here, you want to keep it safe.”



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Read Comments (17)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 22, 2013 at 01:14 PM OyGevald Says:

Correction: Detectives weren't the ones that pieced together Leiby hy"d walk home that fateful day. It was the father of Leiby's Rebbe, (German), that is credited with going store to store and then knocking on doors wherever he saw cameras to as to view the footage.
Whether its this gruesome murder or the shootings, mental health is obviously not being taken seriously by US mental health professionals.
Nebach!

2

 Sep 22, 2013 at 01:39 PM anonymous Says:

Keeping the video for five years is a creepy too long invasion of anyone's anonymity / privacy on the public street. Even on a public street, people should have an expectation of privacy and anonymity.

3

 Sep 22, 2013 at 02:09 PM Professor Says:

Who is secure watch 24?
and who willl monitor them so we can do non criminal yet community unaccepted acts without reprecussions?

4

 Sep 22, 2013 at 02:33 PM mosheyatzmech Says:

Now wait in see how many people will go to jail for minor issuess bcs of this camera

5

 Sep 22, 2013 at 02:45 PM MARK MEYER APPEL Says:

Now that the agudah does not have Charles Hynes or Henna White around, i wonder if they will turn over the tapes to the new DA Ken Thompson.

6

 Sep 22, 2013 at 03:38 PM Anonymous Says:

So Secure Watch 24 reviews the film and then the police need to send in a written request to view the film? How much time is lost and why can't the police see it first? Our tax dollars paid for this!

Most of our crime happens in the mikvas and shuls anyway, so I'm not hopeful much will come of this. Just a waste of my hard earned tax dollars. Will Agudath Israel look at the films first, decide if the perps are one of theirs and then destroy the tape?

7

 Sep 22, 2013 at 03:55 PM Anonymous Says:

A thorough INVESTIGATION has to made into who and what Secure Watch 24 is. Sounds like this is another scandal in the making.

9

 Sep 22, 2013 at 05:21 PM woodmerejoe Says:

Reply to #4  
mosheyatzmech Says:

Now wait in see how many people will go to jail for minor issuess bcs of this camera

Do not commit a crime,then you will not go to jail
A "minor crime" is one that happens to somebody else

10

 Sep 22, 2013 at 05:27 PM gimmeabreak Says:

Reply to #2  
anonymous Says:

Keeping the video for five years is a creepy too long invasion of anyone's anonymity / privacy on the public street. Even on a public street, people should have an expectation of privacy and anonymity.

Umm, you do understand the difference in meaning between the words "public" and "private"? There is NO expectation of privacy in a public place.

11

 Sep 22, 2013 at 05:41 PM Anonymous Says:

a ridiculous waste of money in a knee-jerk emotional response to a tragedy.

Good work, politicians, getting a large grant and continuing money to feed your constituency.

12

 Sep 22, 2013 at 05:55 PM Anonymous Says:

If indeed the money for this grant to the Agudah for security cameras in BP came at the expense of other neighborhoods with higher crime rates, than I would agree with Tony Herbert that is a real travesty and simply shows that its politics as usual. The life of yiddeshe kinder in BP is not of greater priority than a kid in Bed-Sty, Flatbush or other parts of the city where security needs are equal to or greater than BP.

13

 Sep 22, 2013 at 08:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Based upon Agudah's objections to simple things like having Yeshivas FINGER PRINT ALL OF THEIR EMPLOYEES. Agudah's position on consulting a ruv before going to the police, etc... I am very sceptical indeed about having an Agudah controlled shell company decide what is a crime. You can be sure if the perp is a person of color, the police will called right away. HOWEVER, if the perp has peyos, a black hat, a streimel, the crime will be swept under the rug.

14

 Sep 22, 2013 at 09:06 PM InsideOne Says:

Seriously? So an Agudah-controlled LLC gets to use taxpayer dollars to monitor behavior on the streets of Borough Park..this on is going to result in some pretty juicy stories. This kid getting thrown out for Yeshiva because he was seen talking to a girl, that girl getting in trouble cause she was seen wearing a skirt not approved by Agudah rabbonim.

Then, when a well-connected pervert is recorded molesting a minor, the Agudah will first review with it rabbonim as is its shita, and may or may not turn over the tapes to law enforcement.

This setup stinks and will result in anyone having anything to do with it getting in trouble big time. Will it happen in a year? Two? Five? I don't know, but there's no way this thing doesn't implode at some point.

15

 Sep 22, 2013 at 11:21 PM charliehall Says:

Reply to #2  
anonymous Says:

Keeping the video for five years is a creepy too long invasion of anyone's anonymity / privacy on the public street. Even on a public street, people should have an expectation of privacy and anonymity.

Actually, in a public street, there is no expectation of privacy.

16

 Sep 23, 2013 at 02:36 AM TexasJew Says:

Brownsville 14 murders and BP none, and BP gets 100 cameras. Something is very wrong with this equation.
That is why NY is so corrupt. Makes no sense.

17

 Sep 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM Dr. Y. Levine Says:

These cameras will be working on Shabbos also, I presume. What implications, if any, does this have for observant Jews who walk by them? Is there no problem or must one avoid them on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

IIRC, the cameras at the Kosel do not operate on Shabbos, but I am not sure of this.

18

 Sep 29, 2013 at 09:08 AM awacs Says:

Reply to #16  
TexasJew Says:

Brownsville 14 murders and BP none, and BP gets 100 cameras. Something is very wrong with this equation.
That is why NY is so corrupt. Makes no sense.

The squeaky wheels get the grease, TexasJew.

19

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