As Mayor Bill de Blasio looks to increase security at public housing developments where crime is on the rise, one of the chief weapons in his arsenal is security cameras, but do they work? NY1's Courtney Gross looked at housing projects which have already received cameras and found that their record is mixed when it comes to making things safer. She filed the following report.
Security cameras are the often cherished crime-fighting tool by residents in public housing developments, but cameras perched along hallways and perimeters doesn't mean crime will go away. In fact, at Bayview in Canarsie, crime is up 156 percent this year.
"I don't think people are taking the cameras seriously," said Sheryl Boyce of the Bayview Houses Community Association.
NY1 took a look at the crime rates of developments that received security cameras in 2012 or 2013. Of those, 31 actually saw an increase in crime for the first half of this year. At nine developments, crime remained steady, and 26 developments saw a decrease, like the Hammel Houses.
"Every building has a camera like this here," said one resident.
They are in the lobby and in the elevator, and there are more on the outside.
In the first half of 2014, crime fell by more than 50 percent here. Residents pointed to the cameras.
"There is not as much shooting as we used to have," one resident said.
In reality, those on the ground said cameras are just one part of fighting crime in public housing.
"Some people feel that surveillance equals security, but that's not always the case," said Reginald Bowman of the Citywide Council of Presidents of Public Housing in New York City.
Just this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $210 million investment in security at developments. That investment includes exterior lighting, more officers on the ground and community programs. That's on top of the cash for cameras.
When NY1 asked about cameras and crime, a spokeswoman for the housing authority reiterated that strategy. She also said, "...A direct correlation between just cameras and crime rates also omits community specifics including demographics, law enforcement presence, and more."
Even if the housing authority were to focus solely on the security cameras, it could not afford to put one on every building. Some estimate that that would cost more than $500 million.