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East Hills, Munsey Park study use of license plate cameras

Two North Hempstead villages are studying installing security cameras with license plate-reading technology as an additional deterrent to crime in the area.

East Hills and Munsey Park, located in the middle of North Hempstead Town, would join a handful of other Nassau villages using the technology to monitor vehicles moving in and out of their jurisdictions.

The two villages have experienced scant holiday crime this season, and village officials said that cameras could be a measure to keep it this way.

“We’re currently a very safe village, if not the safest in Nassau,” said East Hills trustee Manny Zuckerman. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

During the 2015 holiday season, two holiday robberies shocked residents of East Hills, leading the village to reconvene a dormant security commission to research additional ways to protect residents. The village is now seeking grants for a $400,000 plan to install about 99 cameras at the village’s 33 intersections. If successful, the village will move forward with the project within the next few months, Zuckerman said.

Village officials are committed to keeping costs flat for taxpayers and will seek grants to pay for the program. The community response to the proposal has “generally been positive,” Zuckerman said, with some inquiries about privacy concerns and how the data would be used. Camera footage is only to be reviewed if a crime is being investigated, officials have said.

In Munsey Park, preliminary discussions about the effectiveness of license-plate-reading cameras have begun, Mayor Sean Haggerty said.

Both villages are under the jurisdiction of the Nassau County Police Department’s Third Precinct. Haggerty said Munsey Park wanted to give Nassau police tools to help solve crimes.

Zuckerman also said East Hills intends to work “hand in hand” with the police.

The Nassau villages of Freeport, Kings Point, and Woodsburgh have installed license-plate-reading cameras.

Cameras with license-plate-reading capabilities are a “phenomenal tool” that enables the department to better analyze crimes, Nassau Det. Sgt. Pat Ryder said.

“We’d love to have a cop on every corner, but we can’t,” Ryder said. “But it is feasible to put license plate readers on every other corner and get it pretty close.”

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