West New York Mayor Felix Roque said that he’ll raise $500,000 for a more comprehensive surveillance camera system, donating $10,000 of his own money during a press conference earlier today.
“Now, we have [surveillance] cameras in West New York, but the ratio is not favorable for residents. We have 50 cameras and 30 of them are here in Town Hall. It’s not acceptable, so the goal is to start implementing,” Roque explained.
Roque introduced an add-on resolution at last month’s board of commissioners meeting to explore adding a new surveillance camera system, but that measure was voted down and tensions continued to escalate during a press conference the next day.
While the issue remains a point of contention during this campaign season, Roque maintains that the December murder of a 19-year-old Union City man is what prompted him to take action – not politics (contrary to what his political opponents say).
“I always say that this is not politics because I don’t believe in politics. I’m a father, I have a two-and-a-half year old boy, and the last thing I want to see is something happen to my child.”
The mayor continued that he hoped to fundraise the full $500,000 and implement the system by the end of the year – donating $10,000 to the new non-profit group Safety First for West New York today – and noting that a friend had already committed to giving $50,000 to the cause.
In a statement, Nancy Nager, a trustee for Safety First West New York, commended the mayor on his efforts.
“I commend Mayor Roque, it is very rare when a politician puts his money where his mouth is! I look forward to working with him to help raise private donations. The Mayor suggested setting up a ‘Go Fund Me Page’ to help raise the monies for this important program and other safety initiatives and we will be following his recommendation.”
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Gabriel Rodriguez, who announced earlier today that he hopes to hire 10 more police officers this year and that the walking patrol program will expend, remains unimpressed and questioned if Roque would deliver.
“Again, it’s too little, too late. Where were these initiatives, where were these proposals in the last eight years? Of course the police department would be happy to take a donation to improve our facilities and programs,” he said.
” … Is this an empty promise? Is this a campaign stunt? Probably … Is this a coincidence that this is 64 days before [Election Day]? Probably not. Again, too little, too late and it could be an empty promise, definitely a publicity stunt.”
After seeing Rodriguez’s comments, Roque said he is glad his recent initiatives have been “forcing” his adversary to focus on public safety.
“I am glad that my leadership and initiatives are waking up Mr. Rodriguez and forcing him to focus on the safety of our community. It is interesting that he is finally making proposals to respond to my suggestions, but that does not hide the fact that he voted no to provide security cameras.”
During the presser, Roque also said he would support any initiatives to hire new officers, but doubled down on the importance of an upgraded surveillance system.
“Of course we need more cops and of course we need more surveillance. But you can add more cops, you still need to have cameras so if the bad guy commits a crime, we’re able to catch the bad guy.”
Roque is heading the “Forward with Roque” team, while Rodriguez is on the top of the “New Beginnings West New York” slate. The West New York municipal elections are on May 14th.