Koo funds stronger Bland security

Two representatives from the New York City Housing Authority (l.-r), state Assemblywoman Grace Meng and City Councilman Peter Koo take questions about new security measures that will be implemented at Bland Houses. Photo by Joe Anuta
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A Flushing lawmaker held a town hall meeting last week to discuss new security features coming to Bland Houses, which have been the site of a recent killing and subsequent gunfire.

City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing), state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) hosted members of the New York City Housing Authority, who fielded questions about the new security system that will include cameras and what is known as a layered entry system.

“Basically, there are complaints our offices all get [that] there are people who don’t live there and cause trouble,” Meng said.

The security system is designed to make it harder for individuals who do not live in Bland to get access to the houses, according to the housing authority.

The houses will be outfitted with cameras, which will be placed near entrances to spot anyone entering or exiting the building and the footage can later be reviewed by the NYPD if an incident occurs, according to the housing authority.

In addition, the layered entry system will make it more difficult for anyone to enter the building by putting multiple obstacles in their way.

For example, residents will need an electric key card to access the building. For anyone who does not live at Bland, a direct dial system can connect someone at the door to a resident. The person on the other end of the line can then unlock the door remotely.

The security features, which will also be implemented in nearby Latimer Gardens, were paid for by money from Koo and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan). In total, the two lawmakers gave $400,000 each to the two houses.

Koo also wanted to know when the housing authority would be implementing the security system, since he first allocated $100,000 of the money last year, according to a spokesman.

Initially, the city was set to install the cameras and access system in the spring of next year, but the timeline was moved up to between January and April, the spokesman said.

Koo had written a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking him to expedite the process due to the recent spate of violence at Bland Houses.

But Meng said that the community at Latimer Gardens had been waiting for six years for $250,000 her father allocated for cameras, and was skeptical that the security measures would be installed on time.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she said.

On Oct. 31, Alex Botero, 21, was shot in the head in an elevator at the houses. There were several witnesses to the crime, according to police, who said they need one of them to come forward so they can make an arrest.

On Sept. 10, 21-year-old Marquis McKinney was shot in his upper thigh as he waited around outside 133-50 Roosevelt Ave. for a friend, according to his sister, Diamond Peterson. Two men were arrested after the shooting, both were carrying guns and one was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Two days later, gunfire broke out again the houses, according to state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 4:45 pm, November 22, 2011
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