The Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park and Midwood will have 100 surveillance cameras installed on public lamp-posts two years after an 8-year-old boy was kidnapped and brutally murdered in an area otherwise known for its low crime rate and large ultra-Orthodox population.
The plan, called the Leiby Kletzky Security Initiative, has been led by Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
The insular Jewish neighborhood was rocked in July 2011 when Leiby Kletzky, a boy belonging to the local Haredi community, approached Levi Aron, then 36, to ask for directions. Aron kidnapped the boy and took him to his home in Monsey, NY, according to a later recounting of the events by Aron. The following day, Aron went to his job in a hardware store, leaving Kletzky alone in the Monsey apartment. When he saw flyers posted in the neighborhood with the child’s picture, he said that he panicked, returned home and killed him before dismembering the body.
In August 2012, Aron pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
After lobbying local officials for better security following the Kletzky murder, the Haredi umbrella organization Agudath Israel will receive a $1 million government grant to cover the installation and maintenance of the cameras through the security company SecureWatch24.
In the 66th precinct, where Kletzky’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, the New York State assemblyman, insisted 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 was not a factor in the murder of Kletzky, as Aron was also a member of the ultra-Orthodox community.
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, residents were generally supportive of the cameras despite 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.”