Hoboken councilman calls for more waterfront surveillance near Hudson River

HOBOKEN – The discovery of a body on the Hoboken waterfront near Pier A last week has raised questions about the purpose of security cameras installed near the Hudson River.
City officials confirmed Wednesday to the Hoboken Reporter that those cameras are, at present, primarily intended for counterterrorism operations per the funding that was secured by the city to obtain them. The cameras were acquired by a FEMA Port Security grant intended for homeland security for counterterrorism along the waterfront, City Spokesman Juan Melli said.
But over the years, some have said the city needs better waterfront surveillance to aid investigations into tragedies like the mysterious death of a young man, Andrew Jarzyk, who disappeared two years ago after he spent a Saturday night at a bar with friends and then jogged on the waterfront.
Last week 24-year-old Matthew Genovese was pulled from the Hudson River. The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office has not publicly released information about the cause of death. But Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante said the cameras did not spot him, which may have aided the investigation.
The body of the Bronx native was recovered from the Hudson River around 1 p.m. last Tuesday by the New York Harbor patrol after he seen the previous Saturday, during the blizzard, leaving friends at McSwiggan’s bar to head home. Genovese’s keys and wallet (with credit cards and cash) were found by police in a snow pile 150 feet from the waterfront the Monday after the blizzard. Genovese had told friends in the bar that he was going to walk home — a few blocks to the northwest — but for some reason ended up four blocks east at the riverfront pier.
Investigators have not answered multiple questions about whether he had suffered from depression or was distraught that night.
First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco – whose ward contains the pier where Genovese was found – said he would raise concerns over the matter at the City Council meeting today, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. City Hall.
“This arrangement of cameras is intended to concentrate on port security, not necessarily street-level activity along the walkway or piers, and in my opinion, is not adequate,” he said in a statement to the Reporter. “I will be calling upon my council colleagues and the administration to act swiftly in approving a modern, state of the art system to more effectively monitor the downtown waterfront.”
Melli clarified Wednesday that the cameras also survey the walkways and that although the grant’s purpose is for counterterrorism, “we can use them for solving crimes [and the city] derives other benefits from them as well.”
Zimmer reiterated on Wednesday to the Reporter what herself and Ferrante said in a statement late last week: that is vital for the public to understand that the security cameras are meant to help investigators with an incident after the fact, but are unlikely to directly save lives.
Zimmer added that the city is working to acquire additional cameras and evaluate the best steps to move forward.
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