NYCHA rolls out safety cameras

By Joe Hirsch. NYCHA's CEO Shola Olatoye and a security worker test the monitors at John Adams Houses.

By Joe Hirsch. NYCHA’s CEO Shola Olatoye and a security worker test the monitors at John Adams Houses.

Morrisania complex is among area’s first to receive new technology

Residents of the John Adams Houses in Morrisania are hoping new safety cameras and other new technology in their buildings will help bring down crime and vandalism which have plagued the complex for years.

Tenants joined NYCHA officials to laud the addition of 72 new cameras outside the seven buildings and inside lobbies and elevators.

Several tenants came to hear NYCHA’s CEO and board chair Shola Olatoye inaugurate the project, which includes a $16.5 million investment from the city and $1.4 million from New York State to install 988 cameras in 219 NYCHA buildings around the city, while upgrading over150 more.

One tenant, Ronald Topping, who has lived in the complex for 52 years, called the new technology “wonderful.”

“Over the years we’ve seen crime rise, but people won’t talk,” for fear of retaliation, he said. “This gives them a deterrent because they don’t know who’s watching.”

Mott Haven Houses tenant president John Johnson, who has long advocated for more cameras in South Bronx public housing, said the cameras in his complex have made a big difference.

“When someone does something and there’s footage and they go to court that’s what changes everybody else’s perception,” said Johnson.

In addition to the video security systems, other security upgrades will include layered-access control with the use of small electronic nubs residents can tap against an electronic reader to get into the buildings. The technology can be deactivated when misplaced, and cannot be duplicated.

Three NYCHA security staffers will have access to a bank of monitors inside 721 Tinton Ave., and a direct line to PSA-7, the public housing police on Melrose Avenue.

“Managers can use the tape if trash is coming out of a certain part of the building or someone is doing something in the elevator,” Olatoye said as a security staff worker showed her the monitor, and marveled at the clarity of the image on the screen.

The security officer agreed, the system works.

“We just had one over the weekend,” he said.