Cameras go up in Marble Hill and crime drops


Criminal court summonses at the Marble Hill Houses have showed a marked decline since surveillance cameras were installed there in December 2013, according to statistics from the 50th Precinct.

The houses’ 11 high-rises saw 95 criminal court summonses in 2013, a community affairs officer for the 50th said. In 2014, the number fell to just 28.

“It’s a significant decrease for the area,” the officer said in a phone interview. He declined to speculate on whether the drop was caused by installing the cameras.

While it is tempting to conclude that the cameras directly caused the drop in crime, there are complicating factors. For instance, the same years saw a much larger decrease in criminal summonses for the precinct as a whole. In 2013, there were 2,314 criminal court summonses. Last year, there were just 1,007. The community affairs officer declined to comment on the reasons for the precinct-wide slowdown.

Candace McCoy, a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The Press that any local decrease in criminal summonses probably reflected changes in citywide police practices like stop-and-frisk.

Reports published by the John Jay College Center on Race, Crime and Justice state that the number of misdemeanor arrests fell by 9.5 percent between 2010 and 2013. Police stops have fallen precipitously in recent years, and totaled just 38,456 stops for the first three quarters of 2014.

Summons activity has fallen off throughout the city, Ms. McCoy said, “because police were told only to stop-and-frisk if they had a sound legal basis to do so.”

“The bottom line is that you can’t draw many conclusions from such a small sample,” she added, in reference to the statistics given by the 50th Precinct.

Residents of the Marble Hill Houses said they welcomed the news, but that the statistics only gave them cautious optimism.

“It’s good to know there’s a decrease in those numbers,” said Paulette Shomo, president of the Marble Hill Tenants Association. “But the cameras can’t cover everything.”

surveillance, crime, NYCHA, 50th Precinct, Paulette Shomo, Candace McCoy, Nic Cavell
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