Hewlett Harbor village introduces Operation Private Eyes


Despite already being one of the safest villages on Long Island, Hewlett Harbor has taken the initiative to improve on that reputation.

Village officials launched Operation Private Eyes, a resident-based and -controlled security program that aims to expand individual home security into a virtual neighborhood watch program across Hewlett Harbor.

The equipment for the program is being provided by Ring, a California-based home-security company that was founded in 2013, and purchased by Amazon in 2018 for over $1 billion. The program will allow village residents to buy the Doorbell 2 camera, which was installed at the front door of Hewlett Harbor’s Village Hall, and several other security products from the company’s website at a $40 discounted rate from May 20 to 27. Mayor Mark Weiss noted that it is optional for residents to purchase equipment.

Weiss said the idea had been in the works for the past five months. “We sent a letter out to our residents in April that outlined the program,” he explained. “I made sure to note that this is totally optional.”

The Doorbell 2 camera is motion-sensitive, and residents can put it not only near their front door, but also on side entrances to their homes. They will be notified via the Ring app if there is any activity captured by their cameras. They can even talk through the camera to the person standing in front of it. If they believe there is suspicious activity, they can view the footage and send it to village security or the Nassau County Police Department.

Trustee Tom Cohen, who is the village’s liaison with the NCPD, underscored why the program was created. “Our board made a decision to not be content with our low crime statistics, but rather to set more ambitious security goals and to take advantage of an affordable, easy-to-install technology that will add a level of security to the village at large,” Cohen said. “The broad video-capture area and the far-reaching clarity of the doorbell cameras can offer an opportunity to collect usable images from beyond the front door, including driveways down to the street.”

Overall crimes in the county declined from 23,713 in 2017 to 22,806 in 2018, a 3.82 percent decrease. In the 4th Precinct, which covers the Five Towns, there has been a further reduction in crime from last year through March 31.

Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder took part in the ceremonial “first ring” with Weiss at Village Hall on May 10. He noted how initiatives like Operation Private Eyes help reduce crime in the county. “As a police department, we have to be better every year at keeping the crime rate down,” Ryder said. “We always try to think of new strategies to accomplish this, and this program is a great example of a strategy that will help keep crime down.”

Weiss added that even though some residents have their own security measures, one important factor in choosing Ring was the privacy it provides. “People have concerns about privacy, and Big Brother tracking them,” he said. “But with Ring, nobody has to share any footage that they don’t want to. I believe this will be well received, and of less concern than would be the case with the placement of street-mounted cameras of the kind that have been put in other communities.”

Ryder also touched on recidivism rates in the country and how the program could help reduce them. “Forty-five percent of people who go to jail commit another crime after being released,” he said. “For people who commit robbery, they won’t come out and rob just one house, they’ll rob multiple houses. A security measure like this will help stop the criminals early in their tracks.”

Weiss said he hoped the security program would enhance the village’s reputation as a desirable place to live. “We want Hewlett Harbor to be known as the most hospitable community on Long Island for current and future residents, and the least hospitable for anyone thinking of engaging in unlawful activity,” he said. “I also want this program to drive home the fact that this is not the village to screw around in.”