The planned installation of 44 security cameras covering every entrance to the Village of Kings Point has inspired outrage in some local residents.
“I’ve been receiving calls all day,” said Marsha Rotman, president of the Kings Point Civic Association. “Nobody will reject security, but if you were having an alarm system installed in your house, you would want to know how much it costs.”
Rotman said other concerns from the community include why the cameras are needed and why Village of Kings Point Mayor Michael Kalnick has not reached out more to the community.
In a letter to the editor submitted to the Great Neck News this week, the civic association called for the village to cancel the planned installation. The cancellation of the cameras was among several requests proposed to reduce or eliminate a 2011-2011 budget that calls for a 9.7 percent increase in spending over the current budget.
“Residents cannot afford the costs of manning, monitoring and maintaining these cameras,” said the association. “If there are safety concerns, our highly trained, well-staffed Kings Point Police Department should more than adequately address them.”
The new cameras are intended to complement a year-and-a-half old license plate reading security camera in Kings Point that police say has improved safety.
The test camera on East Shore Road monitors cars entering the village as part of the plan to install 44 cameras covering every entrance and exit to the village, said Kings Point Police Commissioner Jack Miller.
Cameras will be installed in three phases and require no additional personnel for monitoring, only desk personnel, Miller said.
“I think the cost per family is something like $130 per year for five years,” he said. “That basically pays for the entire system.”
There are about 1,600 homes in the Village of Kings Point.
Miller said the cameras take a picture of the license plate of each passing car with data stored indefinitely. Also captured is a live video feed that is stored for two weeks.
Visible to the public in Village Hall is a 50-inch screen that displays the live video feed.
Miller said Sands Point, Hempstead, Long Beach and Centre Island also have security cameras.
Acknowledging privacy concerns, Miller said the cameras reveal no more than would be seen if a person was standing on the street.
“You can’t even see who’s in the car,” he said. “You don’t know how many people are driving in the car. You don’t know if it’s a man or a woman driving it.”
The system alerts law enforcement when a license plate entering or exiting the village is connected to a possible crime.
Alerts include cars possibly driven by violent felons or sex offenders, stolen cars, and cars with suspended insurance.
“Let’s say they are having burglaries in Great Neck Estates and they have a plate number,” Miller said. “It can alert us when the plate goes by.”
Miller said the cameras could have proved useful a few weeks ago.
When a 66-year-old Kings Point resident had her wedding ring stolen while unloading groceries in front of her house, he said cameras would have captured the license plate of the getaway car.
“We most certainly would have seen the car and the plate that was on it,” he said. “My belief is that we would have made an arrest already.”
Some residents remain unconvinced that license plates are the only thing that police will be viewing.
“The houses are only one-acre here, and there are houses that are pretty close to the road,” Rotman said. “There is a really pretty good potential for a lawsuit.”
Efforts to reach Kalnick for comment were unavailing.