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Surveillance in the city: insider's view.

Last month, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced he would ask for city funds to place 400 surveillance cameras in areas of New York where crime rates remain unacceptably high.

This is good news and we expect his plan to work. We've had similar success in the private security industry.

Since joining Classic Security in 2003, I've received countless calls from NYPD detectives requesting building surveillance video recordings from the properties our officers patrol, because of a crime in the area.

As a former New York City police officer, patrol supervisor and investigator, I am well aware of the effectiveness of surveillance cameras identifying criminals.

In addition to physically patrolling buildings, Classic Security performs contract work to install cameras and instruct security officers on the use of these devices.

We believe a "technology-smart" security officer is a more effective officer. Surveillance cameras in public areas serve two purposes. First, they function as a deterrent against crime.

In several locations where the NYPD has placed cameras, the crime rate has already dropped as much as 30 percent, particularly along Fordham Road in the Bronx, where seven cameras were installed in January.

Since cameras were installed in 15 of the city's housing developments, crime has dropped an average of 36 percent.

Recently, the NYPD used a camera installed in a housing development to assist in the investigation of a case involving an officer wounded in the line of duty. The video resulted in critical information being revealed, which is assisting the department in its criminal and internal investigations. Second, the cameras improve the area's quality of life.

Those tempted to scrawl graffiti on walls or urinate in public will likely do so somewhere else.

But that "somewhere else" might not exist nearby, especially with cameras going up in 50 locations.

If the crime drop within our city's office buildings that have employed surveillance technology is any indication, this trend will lead to a safer, more peaceful city.

Some civil liberties advocates have complained that such cameras invade individuals' privacy and equate the technology to "Big Brother watching" all the time.

But these cameras do not come close to resembling secret surveillance, as they are clearly visible and placed in clearly public and heavily trafficked locations. The security videos would be police property and not shared with the general public. Any officer who made such a video public would face severe disciplinary action.

As NYPD spokesman Paul Browne explained to the press, the new NYPD cameras will not be monitored. However, the high-resolution video recordings will be reviewed in the event a crime takes place.

We in the security industry are intent on employing surveillance technology wherever possible in the future to solve crimes.

Though cameras are not an acceptable alternative to an alert security officer, they serve as extra pairs of "eyes" in order to deter and solve crimes.

Since our jurisdiction only extends to property boundaries, we're glad the NYPD is taking similar steps and we look forward to assisting them in the future.

TOM GARRY, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, CLASSIC SECURITY
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Title Annotation:Mid-Year Review & Forecast
Author:Garry, Tom
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Words:508
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