NEWARK N.J. — Newark is rolling out what it calls "block watch on steroids" — a high-tech way for residents to virtually patrol their blocks and report anything suspicious anonymously to police.
"We think this is a new way to help us with fighting crime,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.
Sixty cameras have gone up across the city and residents can log on to view live streams from any of those locations after logging in here by clicking ‘citizen virtual patrol’ in the upper right hand corner.
“Maybe it’s a car that shouldn’t be there. A delivery van that looks suspicious,” explained Baraka.
He said police will now have video evidence of that crime, enabling the reporting resident to stay out of the investigation and without fear of retribution.
Still, residents are apprehensive about using the new technology.
“It’s not safe,” one young mother said.
"Say if somebody found out who did it. ... they come for you,” said another.
Newark had citywide cameras installed before, but they were wiped out by Superstorm Sandy. Thanks to an $850,000 grant, this new fleet is costing the taxpayers nothing. The images are now crisper, and the online live streams available for anyone to watch and report are all new.
"Citizens can help us without putting themselves out there,” Newark police Director Anthony Ambrose said.
The city's goal is to buy another 60 cameras by the end of this summer, and another 200 cameras within the next three years.