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Elevator stabbings could result in premises liability suits

The two young children who were stabbed in an elevator in an inner city housing project in New York have residents up in arms. With one child deceased and the other still in critical condition, residents wonder why there was no video surveillance in place in the elevators. New York City has relied heavily on security cameras as deterrents and crime-solving tools ever since the horror of 9/11.

Even though the suspect in the stabbings was eventually captured, questions remain as to why some of the most violent and poverty-stricken neighborhoods don't have security cameras stationed throughout their housing projects.

More than 615,000 New York residents live in the 60 percent of public housing without working security cameras. One of those is Boulevard Houses in Brooklyn where the stabbings occurred.

Mayor Bill de Blasio attacked his own administration for failing to install cameras when money had been allocated for the New York City Housing Authority to implement them. This opens up the city to possible premises liability litigation from the children's families.

"The buck stops with me," said de Blasio. "I think it's unacceptable bureaucracy, it's as simple as that. And I've ordered all these cameras put in place this year."

Throughout Manhattan, the New York Police Department is in charge of over 7,000 security cameras. Many are in place around Times Square and the site of the new World Trade Center, along with other popular tourist destinations. Private cameras are also installed around the five boroughs, waiting to be used as evidence in police investigations.

The mayor noted that the Housing Authority had not yet spent $27 million set aside for improving security, some of which could have safeguarded 50 housing projects. The Department of Investigation is investigating the process of installing security cameras in public housing.

Even if the man is convicted in criminal court for the attack, for the families of the dead and injured children to seek any monetary compensation, they will have to turn to the civil courts for financial relief.

Source: Miami Herald, "NYC public housing lacks security cameras" Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press, Jun. 04, 2014

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