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Cop-arazzi! Jersey City adding surveillance cams to high-crime hot spots

The bad guys had better be ready for their “close-up.”

Jersey City officials said that 40 new surveillance cameras — which will produce images that are five times clearer than in the past — will be installed in high-crime hot spots in 2018 as part of the city’s CCTV program. The new cameras will be bring the total to 197 across the city, officials said.

Four high-definition fixed cameras will be placed at intersections of Dwight and Ocean avenues, Winfield and Ocean avenues, Bartholdi and Ocean avenues, Fulton and Ocean avenues, Lexington and Bergen avenues, Bayview and Garfield avenues, Monticello and Brinkerhoff avenues, Monticello and Belmont avenues, Monticello and Jewett avenues, and Monticello and Gardner avenues.

“We realized we were spending an exorbitant amount of money constantly repairing the old cameras, and therefore decided it would be much more effective to start from scratch,” Jersey City Police Director Jim Shea said in a statement. “The previous system used one user controlled, pan-tilt-zoom camera per location, and was oftentimes pointing in the wrong direction at the time of an incident being investigated.

“We moved to a system with four stationary cameras at each location, providing more coverage at each location.”

When Mayor Steve Fulop took office in 2013, there were 50 functioning cameras throughout Jersey City, officials said. Now there are 157, and by the end of the year the total will be 197.

“We’ve been working to modernize the antiquated and unreliable CCTV system we inherited with an updated, state-of-the-art system strategically mapped out with multiple cameras covering our problem areas,” Fulop said in a statement. “The cameras will enable surveillance in real-time and for review, considerably enhancing our efforts to increase public safety citywide.”

The $850,000 cost for the first two phases of the program costs $850,000, which is being paid by a combination of Department of Homeland Security Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) funds and capital budget funds.

City officials say cameras serve not only to assist the police, but can also be used for evacuation and emergency scenarios.

The latest step in the project includes laying down fiber lines and extending them from existing lines to the new and future locations.

“These new cameras use the latest technology, strengthening our other crime reduction efforts as we continue to see downward trends in violent and nonviolent crimes,” Fulop said. “Strategically placing the cameras in our problem areas is multifunctional, serving not only as a crime deterrent, but the surveillance footage can also serve as a crucial piece of evidence in court.”

The city’s goal is to place cameras in 50 different locations. The first new cameras were placed in six parks and 13 street locations.

The prior surveillance camera system — with some cameras as old as 15 years — was installed using Urban Enterprise Zone funds, which meant they were placed in business districts throughout the city – not the most effective locations.

Officials say the new cameras are being placed using crime data identifying areas of historically higher crime, our municipal parks and using feedback from the community.

Listen, I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief. My taste in books, comic or otherwise, and pretty much everything I choose as entertainment makes this abundantly clear.

Despite this, there is this little part of my brain, the part that really loves logic and rational thought, that is a pedantic perfectionist who truly appreciates the quote from “Futurama”: “You are technically correct. The best kind of correct.”

That part of me can’t help but watch anything involving superpowered individuals being persecuted and immediately shout internally that it would never happen. Instead, every government on the planet would be recruiting them for military service and those that weren’t press ganged into civil service would be celebrities of some kind. Or ignored completely.

The same thought process goes for strange alien creatures and magic in the modern world. They would be co-opted and exploited, just like everything else.

Actually, this might have more to do with me being a misanthropic cynic. That’s not the point, though. My point is that when I opened up the first issue of “Port of Earth,” I saw a concept I could get behind and by the end of the first issue the whole thing made even more sense. Not only had my faith in humanity been verified by Zack Kaplan’s story, but also, he had gone so far as to apply those sentiments to every sentient species the galaxy has to offer in his book.

The opening page of the first issue lays out the premise pretty simply: When aliens came to Earth, they did not come in peace or war. Instead, they came with a business offer.

Under the auspices of a galactic U.N., representatives came to Earth with a proposal that the planet host what is essentially a fuel stop for traveling alien vessels. In return, Earth would be given the technology needed to turn water into clean fuel.

By the end of the first issue, the truth comes out, and it isn’t as bad as you might think at first. The aliens weren’t beneficent galactic representatives, they were business people looking to make a buck. Everything goes downhill and Kaplan sets about exploring humanity’s relationship with extraterrestrials and how our planet responds to the bold new future thrust upon it.

All of this is explored through the perspective of the Earth Security Agency, specifically two officers who could not be any different. They are the odd couple of civil servants, written to provide the opposite ends of the spectrum of acceptance and approach to the idea of alien beings. Everything they do is under the microscope as well. They were the lucky recipients of drone cameras intending to broadcast their lives as E.S.A. agents so the world can see just what happens behind the scenes.

With each piece of the story laid out, “Port of Earth” digs into human nature and modern culture in all its flaws, everyday cruelty and blindness to justice and dignity. On top of that there are super powerful aliens, crazy technology and powers that be that want everything to remain the same so they can reap the benefits of the strange new world. Everything good sci-fi can bring to the table.


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