Newsday: Nassau plans NYC-style security-camera network

Newsday — by Anthony M. Destefano and Keith Herbert

Nassau County police are on the verge of setting up a large network of private security cameras similar to the vast electronic monitoring system the NYPD has in lower Manhattan, officials said Tuesday.

The Nassau program would link thousands of cameras throughout the county to a network overseen by Securewatch 24, a New York-based company that coordinates thousands of public and private cameras linked to the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, said Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder, commanding officer of the Nassau police intelligence and asset forfeiture unit.

"It gives us a better investigative tool for law enforcement because video cameras do not prevent crime, they help you solve crime," Ryder said. "It's more eyes on the world."

The county and Securewatch 24 could sign a memorandum of understanding for the monitoring program as early as Wednesday, Ryder said. There is no cost to the county to use the system.

While the program gives police access to private security cameras, such as those monitoring stores or businesses, it will not include any red-light cameras or license-plate readers, Ryder said.

Officials at Securewatch 24 could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

New York City's system pulls close to 3,000 private and public cameras into a monitoring network.

The Manhattan program, dubbed the "ring of steel" after a similar operation in London, was expanded to include the midtown area after the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt.

News of the Nassau plan came as a key member of the British Parliament and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) were briefed on the county's intelligence operations at the police academy in Massapequa Park.

Keith Vaz, chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee, said he was impressed with the way the Nassau police collect intelligence about crime.

"What Nassau County is doing is trying to predetermine" where crime will take place, said Vaz.

King and Vaz later were briefed by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly about the city counterterrorism efforts.