Agudath Israel gets surveillance cameras

Midwood spy cams go to group accused of shielding sex predators from police

Brooklyn Daily

An ultra-Orthodox religious group that discourages Jews from reporting sex crimes to police without first consulting a rabbi is getting $1 million from the state to install security cameras to catch criminals and child predators on the streets of Midwood and Borough Park — but police won’t get to see vital footage first.

State officials confirmed that Agudath Israel of America — a group that urges Jews not to report sex abuse claims to police before getting approval from a rabbi — would administer the program to install cameras focusing on sidewalks, schools, banks, and synagogues to help catch sex predators in the two neighborhoods.

But the NYPD won’t be the ones monitoring the surveillance feed. Plans are in motion to give the Shomrim, a volunteer security force in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities, access to the footage, and possibly control what the police will see. Critics say that could shield Jewish criminals from cops.

“That’s worse than not having the cameras,” said Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, who runs a hotline for sexual abuse victims. “Every time a rabbi or Jewish person molests a child or kidnaps one, you’ll never get the information.”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who advocated for the cameras, confirmed that neighborhood volunteers will have control of the cameras.

“Camera output will be accessed by private volunteer organizations and can be reviewed by authorized police officials,” a statement from Hikind’s office says.

Hikind (D–Borough Park) backed his choice of giving the camera program to Agudath Israel, despite its stand on reporting crimes to police.

“No organization is perfect,” he said. “The money has to flow through an organization and they are respected, well-known, and trusted. We had to choose somebody we were comfortable with.”

Calls to Agudath, which also runs summer youth camps, job placement programs, and oversees a network of Orthodox synagogues throughout the city, were not returned.

Agudath Israel has been repeatedly criticized for its practice of “mesirah,” a code that frowns upon Jews handing fellow Jews to secular authorities unless a rabbi thinks the criminal complaints are credible.

A New York Times report earlier this month accused District Attorney Charles Hynes of tacitly endorsing the practice because he knew of it and didn’t do anything stop it.

The camera program was created in the aftermath of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky’s abduction and murder in Borough Park last summer.

A camera image helped police track down Kletzky’s alleged killer, Levi Aron, who is due back in court in the next few weeks.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @from_where_isit.

Reader Feedback

Avery E. from Flatbush says:
This story is filled with mistruths. The Brooklyn police have the same access to video footage as the Shomrim. Eli Rosenberg should work for Failed Messiah--his hatred for Orthodox Jews is just as intense. Sad.
May 24, 2012, 11:03 pm
benti from brooklyn says:
Our Tax dollars should not be used for private groups or organizations, religious or otherwise that limit benefit's to that limited few...
May 25, 2012, 9:31 am
Yossi from Bor Park says:
This article is NOT true at all..Shomrim patrol is a private organization who work very closely with the NYPD and all criminal activities are shared with the local authorities...My son was molested and the molester was caught by Shomrim of BP and they turned him over to the 66 command and was arrested...
May 25, 2012, 1:33 pm
maria says:
how untrue can it be when i lived in borough park and saw the balance of the scale when it came to orthodix jews and gentiles. gentiles can call the nypd but its not like what we say will be heard. u know who has the upper hand and it aint us.
May 25, 2012, 5:43 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
why should tax dollars be spent on a private group?
let them spend their own money and raise whatever is necessary for whatever they want..NO TAX MONEY...they are all tax exempt anyway.
May 25, 2012, 11:08 pm
Locksmith from Brooklyn says:
In the jewish religion we believe that we are and will be judged by our own courts. The reality is we are not living in ancient times and therefore we must make public potential acts of criminal behavior to all authorities. You cannot hand pick and cultivate by laws that surpass the laws that we have in place in todays society. There should be supervised viewing with a government official over seeing the entire operation. I am an expert on the topic of security and the security system that will be installed can easily be utilized at more then one viewing location. This makes multiple viewing for authorities a cinch. If i can be of help on this topic please feel free to contact me as i will be available to answer many questions in regards to this topic.
http://allborolocksmith.com
May 26, 2012, 5:31 pm
Lilly from Park Slope says:
Outrageous!!
May 26, 2012, 8:38 pm
jeanne abbott from midwood says:
This is such BS. I think cameras yes, private groups NO. What ever happens it is now on the state. It better be viewed by the state, federal and local authorities at the same time. If not can it.
May 27, 2012, 10:45 am
wondering from NYC says:
I would like to know how much of the 1 million is actually going towards the actual camera equipment and future maintenance costs and what % of the contract is soft costs/overhead just to support Agudath Israel....
May 27, 2012, 11:36 am
harriet from brooklyn says:
First of all, if a group is not reporting such vile crimes to the police, then they should be investigated.

The less obvious problem is that the proliferation of cameras can be a problem for selective enforcement. Who is watching the watchmen? How are the people trained who are looking at the videos? Are they using videos for their own personal enjoyment or profit? How can the average person know? Who will store the videos? Who has access to them?

IMHO, these are disturbing questions when police make video recordings, but when private groups are given such powers, I believe our rights as citizens are jeopardized.
May 28, 2012, 7:37 pm
Malembi from BK says:
Total ——in ——.
May 29, 2012, 4:50 pm
Malembi from BK says:
Total fu ckin bull ——
May 29, 2012, 4:50 pm

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