City workers installed on Monday the first of a series of cameras that will be added to Long Beach’s Long Island Rail Road station to enhance security.
About 20 cameras will be installed, City Council Vice President Anthony Eramo said at a news conference that day. The effort is part of a 10-year plan to add cameras to facilities around the city to deter crimes like theft and loitering and increase public safety, Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said.
“We [installed cameras] on the boardwalk a couple of months ago at the end of the summer, we’ve done City Hall, so this is the next phase,” Tangney said. “Over 10 years, we’ll be able to cover every city facility — all our parks, our beach park, the children’s parks, the infrastructure, so that we ensure the safety of everyone.”
Half of the $23,000 train station project was funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Transportation, while the remaining funding came from the city’s capital plan, a city spokesman said.
The first camera was installed above the bicycle rack to deter people from stealing bikes, Eramo said.
We’ve given out many tickets,” Tangney said, referring to reports of loitering and possession of alcohol at the train station.
Besides security cameras, the increased security effort also includes more frequent police patrols. “Public safety is paramount for our residents here in Long Beach, and we want to make sure that they feel as safe as possible,” Eramo said, “so we’ve increased patrols here at the Long Island Rail Road both during rush hour and at regular times.”
The move follows safety and quality-of-life complaints by residents on social media about the train station’s condition.
Long Beach resident Brittany Littlejohn started a discussion about safety concerns on Facebook. She said she didn’t feel comfortable when she was at the station with her 2-year-old daughter.
“It wasn’t meant to point fingers or be accusatory,” Littlejohn said. “It’s just to bring awareness to a situation that makes many people feel uncomfortable. Let’s find a solution, let’s clean it up, let’s add some security cameras.”
Lisa Gargan, a Long Beach Taxi driver who often waits for fares at the station, said she regularly sees people, at least some of whom are homeless, loitering at the station.
“Some of them come up to you and ask you for money sometimes when you’re getting off the train,” Gargan said. “They harass you. Why do [people] have to be scared coming off the train? They should have cops patrol here once in a while. It’s not safe.”
Eramo added that city officials would also reach out to loiterers who wander around the station in order to help them. “We do have to make sure we have compassion for the most vulnerable among us that seem to be hanging around the train station quite a bit,” Eramo said, “so we will continue to connect them with the houses of worship and the non-profits to help them get the services that they need.”
Eramo also said that Long Beach officials and police would work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make sure the train station is safer. Security footage, he said, would be shared with the MTA.
“It’s been an ongoing thing that there’s been some bad behavior at the train station and folks accumulating a lot of tickets for loitering and whatnot,” Eramo said. “It’s one of the biggest responsibilities of the administration — public safety.”
The cameras are expected to be installed by mid-December, Tangney said.
“You shouldn’t have to be paranoid, or on guard, or just leave,” Littlejohn said. “Would you engage with somebody who’s inebriated and possibly mentally handicapped, and there’s no one around to back you up anywhere? No. Where is everybody? Where is foot patrol? Be proactive and prevent, rather than reactive and react.”