Earlier today, Hudson County elected officials stood at a podium just a few feet away from where jogger Carolina Cano was murdered in Lincoln Park back in March as they revealed that seven new blue light stations and 11 CCTV cameras have been added to the location.
It was on March 24th that a passerby spotted Cano’s body in Lincoln’s Park lake, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of Honduran national Jorge Rios in June.
Residents, especially those living in and around the park, demanded answers and action from Jersey City and Hudson County officials, which led to an April 2 meeting at the Gallo Center where individuals such as Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop sat at the table.
It was at that time that residents were assured that action would be taken and it was announced today that seven Blue Light stations and 11 new CCTV cameras have been added, which brings the total number of CCTV cameras in Lincoln Park to 55.
The company that installed the Blue Light stations, JCT Solutions, demonstrated their goodwill to the city after the tragic incident by donating one of the seven stations. The remaining six were paid for by a county grant worth $121,263.
One of JCT Solutions’ personnel, Director of Operations Andy Michaels, spoke during the press conference to explain how users operate the station in the event they need to contact EMS or police personnel.
“There’s a speaker phone on the station, and users speak into it after they select a button which then alerts a surveillance center to know the user’s exact location in the park and they then respond to your emergency,” began Michaels.
“There’s a camera on top of the machine that records 24 hours a day, seven days per week, so it’ll pick up anybody who selects the button and quickly runs away. A blue light flashes brightly to let anyone know within the area that there is an emergency.”
Additionally, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise made it clear to those in attendance that today’s announced changes stem from the public meeting at the Gallo Center in the spring.
“This whole thing started at a town meeting right up the block where the public, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Jersey City Police Department and Hudson County Sheriff’s Office gathered to inform the public what was going on and what we could do to continue to make our parks beautiful, successful and safe.”
Jersey City Freeholder O’Dea (D-2, whose district includes Lincoln Park), emphasized that the county realized it had to act swiftly after that town hall meeting.
“We looked over areas of this park that weren’t fully covered; we now have 55 CCTV cameras in Lincoln Park. Almost every part of this park is covered with security cameras that are monitored 24/7. So we responded quickly, we responded to the community and we continue to make and keep this the safest, safest park that we could have in this city and this county,” said O’Dea.
In an interview, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey detailed how residents can now feel more secure regardless of the hour they are walking, jogging or biking in the park.
“Absolutely, they can use this park at all hours of the day or night. Once we all got together, the sheriff’s department worked very closely together with the Jersey City Police Department, with the county executive, Freeholder [O’Dea], myself and the mayor to make sure that people started to feel safe in the park as soon as the incident had happened. And now this is that step to make sure that people feel just a little bit safer,” she said.
During a question and answer period with the media, we asked who will be monitoring all of the camera footage that will be operating 24/7, as well as how will they respond should a call for help arise.
Hudson County Corrections Director Ron Edwards offered to explain the process.
“What’ll happen is … an operator is designated just to the emergency call box. Once an alert is notified, that operator will decide if it’s an EMT or police department, and they’ll dispatch simultaneously,” said Edwards.
He added that all the footage will be monitored by county employees in a surveillance center in Jersey City.
“Our surveillance center monitors all the cameras within the county, we have over 250 cameras. The emergency call lights are designated for one person, and one person only.”