NYPD to deploy a

Published 23 March 2006

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is installing 505 surveillance cameras around the city, while pushing to safeguard lower Manhattan with what it calls a “ring of steel” which could track hundreds of thousands of people and cars a day, authorities revealed yesterday. The police cameras will constantly keep watch over neighborhoods plagued by crime and monitor potential terror targets as the city moves to put another 1,200 cops on the street. The exact locations of the cameras were not revealed, but the electronic eyes will be set up in 253 spots, including many Operation Impact zones - high-crime areas already targeted by teams of cops. The NYPD is also testing audio sensors that would allow the cameras to point in the direction of gunshots. The cameras will be put up in Brooklyn first before spreading to other boroughs.

City Hall is paying for the cameras using $9.1million in homeland security funds. The NYPD also has applied for $81.5 million in federal aid to install surveillance cameras, computerized license plate readers and vehicle barriers around lower Manhattan.

The security measures would be similar to London’s “ring of steel,” which gained fame after the 7 July attacks in the London underground. Above ground, London has cameras posted at sixteen entry points and twelve exits from the City of London. The cameras capture images of license plates and drivers’ faces. Officials then run the license plates through a database of stolen cars and terrorism suspects. Last year, the system read 37 million cars and got 91,000 hits, leading to 550 arrests.

The NYPD will find out by the end of May whether it will receive the federal money. New York officials have also discussed the possibility of creating a similar surveillance system for midtown Manhattan. Law enforcement and transportation agencies already have about 1,000 cameras in the subways, with 2,100 scheduled to be in place by 2008. An additional 3,100 cameras are monitoring city housing projects. Thousands of other cameras at private buildings and apartment towers also train lenses on New Yorkers and often provide valuable clues to cops.

-read more in Alison Gendar’s and Michael Saul’s New York Daily Newsreport