Monday 25th September 2017- By Al Sullivan

City to expand public safety street cameras in high crime locations

Jersey City has announced that it has moved into the second phase of a three-phase, multi-year program to entirely revamp the city’s public safety camera system. Over the three phases, the city plans to install more than 200 new cameras citywide.

Late last year, Public Safety Director James Shea said the existing technology was not only out of date, but also poorly positioned to serve as a crime-fighting tool. The system was largely installed as funding became available, and often placed in locations dictated by grants, rather than where the surveillance was most needed. 

“Many of these are pointed in the wrong direction,” he said. “The new cameras will be active 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

The state-approved vendor, Millennium Communications, is nearing completion of Phase I of the program, which includes a total of 78 cameras at thirteen locations and six parks. That includes 26 cameras at the following six parks: Ferris (Triangle) Park, Stevens Park, Muhammad Ali Park, Audubon Park, Arlington Park and Columbia Park.

Last week, Mayor Steven Fulop announced the launch of Phase II of New CCTV Camera Program that will install 40 additional cameras to be added through $355,000 Homeland Security Funding. 

“We have been working quickly to replace the outdated and inefficient CCTV camera program with a state-of-the-art system in strategic locations,” said Fulop. “In less than a year, we have made significant progress and know that these new cameras will have a huge impact on public safety. As we continue to increase the number of officers on the streets, this is another resource that will assist us in fighting crime with the latest technology and best practices.

“We have been working quickly to replace the outdated and inefficient CCTV camera program with a state-of-the-art system in strategic locations.” – Mayor Steven Fulop

Old system out of date

The prior system, which was comprised of 150 cameras, was installed in phases between eight and 15 years ago using Urban Enterprise Zone funds, which meant they were placed in business districts throughout the city, not the most needed locations. 

The locations for the new cameras are based on crime data showing areas of historically higher crime or on feedback from the community, and in municipal parks. Additionally, the old cameras hadn’t been serviced in several years once the state withdrew UEZ revenue from municipalities, which meant that at times a third or more were out of service.

Shea, however, said some of the old cameras will be maintained for use in public parks.

Shea also noted that this will coincide with the recently established list of private camera systems – a voluntary program that allows police to access cameras from private residences, stores and other locations to help in an investigation.

Phase II of the project includes four cameras at each of the following 10 locations: Winfield and Ocean avenues, Bartholdi and Ocean avenues, Fulton and Ocean avenues, Dwight Street and Ocean Avenue, Lexington and Bergen avenues, Bayview and Garfield avenues, Monticello and Brinkerhoff avenues, Monticello and Belmont avenues, Monticello and Jewett avenues, and Monticello and Gardner avenues. 

Another feature of the new camera system that sets it apart from its predecessor is that all of the cameras are 5 megapixel cameras to provide higher clarity, whereas previously they were 1 megapixel. The majority of camera locations will have four fixed cameras covering a 360-degree field of vision, thereby removing user error because a camera will never be facing the wrong way and criminals will be unable to move out of view.

Fiber optic improvements as well

In addition to the 78 cameras, Phase I also included the installation of the most advanced fiber optic cable along the length of Ocean Avenue, MLK Drive and Bergen Avenue, in addition to portions of Garfield Avenue. This allows for the connection of the side streets into the CCTV camera system and easier expansion for the future phases.

Phase I and Phase II total approximately $600,000 and are a combination of Department of Homeland Security Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) funds and capital budget funds.

The city has also secured an additional $500,000 in funding for future phases of this project from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Forfeiture Fund.

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