Boston Replacing Guards with Cameras at Housing Complex

Plan calls for reduced guard hours, using more cameras and keyless access control systems


BOSTON -- Some Boston senior citizens said that their safety is being jeopardized after the Boston Housing Authority announced plans to replace daytime security guards with surveillance cameras.

NewsCenter 5's Amalia Barreda reported Monday that Carrie Streater, 78, is among the residents of the Martin Luther King Jr. Elderly Housing Complex who say eliminating live security guards from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and replacing them with surveillance cameras puts them at risk.

The proposal would affect 13 public senior citizen complexes in Roxbury and Dorchester that now have 24-hour guards.

"The mayor is doing a great job of building the city up. We still live in Roxbury. It's still a high crime area," resident Glenn Williams said.

The Boston Housing Authority said eliminating security guards in the daytime is just a small part of a much-needed overhaul of security in elderly housing complexes. For an estimated $500,000, officials said they would bring the system into the 21st century.

The plan includes installing keyless entry systems in all the buildings. Each resident would have a card instead of a key.

A closed-circuit TV camera would be wired into each resident's TV set, allowing them to see who is trying to gain entry. An emergency phone in the lobby would automatically dial 911, and emergency pull cords in each unit would automatically ring police dispatch.

"I have been in this business for 25 years. If I thought there was a remote chance that this endangers our residents I would not be advocating for this," said William McGonagle, of the Boston Housing Authority.

He said that a big reason for the proposal is the continuing cutback of federal funding.

"Security and safety is basic to your sense of what is home," said Sam Yoon, of the Boston City Council.

Yoon said he has contacted members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to see what they can do to restore funding, which would, in turn, restore that feeling of safety for some of the city's most vulnerable citizens.

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