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Queens Chronicle

Cameras to be set up outside shelter

Ozone Park Block Assn. raising $8G for neighborhood TV watch system

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:30 am

Private surveillance cameras, bought with money raised in a GoFundMe campaign, are set to go up in trouble spots in Ozone Park — the first across from a newly opened homeless shelter.

“The Ozone Park Residents Block Association has decided to take matters into our own hands,” read the test of a GoFundMe posting.

The decision to implement an unofficial network of security is closely tied to a vandalism spree last week, when the windshields of three cars were smashed not far from the controversial homeless shelter that opened last spring at 86th Street and 101st Avenue.

A resident of the shelter who’d been locked out after closing time was suspected.

The operators of the shelter declined requests from police investigating the incidents to provide copies of its own surveillance footage.

Administrators said it was the nonprofit’s policy to provide information to the authority only under subpoena.

So far, police have not moved to serve the shelter with one.

The OPRBA, whose activist president, Sam Esposito, led the effort to try to block the shelter, expressed its displeasure with the shelter’s managers and, over the weekend, started planning to install its own cameras.

An invoice for eight new cameras and related technical services from a local security company was posted on the association’s Facebook page, indicating the group was moving quickly.

The invoice showed the new system — including a camera atop BJ’s Deli on the corner opposite the shelter — will cost about $4,000.

Shortly after, a GoFundMe page with a goal of $8,000, organized by the Esposito, appeared on the crowdfunding website.

“We want the entire area to be outfitted with cameras that will allow us and the NYPD to monitor the area 24/7 to keep our residents safe,” it read.

Esposito did not respond to messages seeking information on the plan.

The GoFundMe ad said the group also planned to set up cameras in the parking lot of the Stop & Shop market on Atlantic Avenue “where young kids congregate, race cars and play loud music all hours of the night.”

“An increased number of cameras is only a positive thing,” said Inspector Courtney Nilan, commander of the 102nd Precinct, “because it helps to deter crime or identify individuals, if a crime has been committed.”

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