Building a virtual gated community in Hewlett Harbor


Despite not being a gated community, Hewlett Harbor might be on its way to being one digitally. The village has a history of incorporating technology to protect residents, and have continually added to its mission. 

“The goal in the last two years is to create a digital gated community,” said Mayor Mark Weiss. It began in May 2019 when Hewlett Harbor became the first village in the Five Towns to work with Ring, a home security company founded in 2013. By working with Ring, it allowed residents to purchase doorbell cameras at a discounted rate. Weiss noted that it was optional to purchase the equipment. From 2020-2021, Hewlett Harbor installed license plate readers and cameras throughout the village. 

The next progression was how to help the village’s security officers. Weiss went to “tech savvy” Trustee Gil Bruh and asked, “What about our security vehicle?” Bruh is the founder and president of Modern Age Technology, an information technology provider.

Hewlett Harbor employs three patrol officers who work on rotating shifts. “It takes approximately 40 minutes to travel through every block to get a good run around the community,” patrol officer Mike Schmitt said.

With one patrol officer patrolling the village, it is almost impossible to be everywhere at once. In came the iPad. The addition to the iPad allows the officer on duty to flip through the various cameras across the village and see when motion activity is happening, all from the driver's seat of the patrol car.

“The idea is that it’s giving them that expansion that they didn’t have before, and their finding out areas in the village that are having an activity that wouldn’t at an hour,” Bruh said.

In the past few years, portions of Nassau County including the Five Towns has seen a rash of vehicles being stolen and home burglaries and lately catalytic converter thefts. Hewlett Harbor is sending the message to criminals that thee village should be the last place they try to commit any crime.

“If you develop a reputation that this is not the kind of place you want to come into,” Weiss said. “Why would you do it as a criminal?” When asked if crimes have gone down since the installment of cameras last year, he said, “we did not have a break-in or a car theft for about three months. It was a combination of cameras installed and license plate readers.”

The iPad showed its effectiveness when Schmitt was on patrol in one part of the village and was notified of activity in another portion by seeing a camera. He thought it was “unusual,” so he proceeded to respond. Schmitt arrived at the scene and greeted a person trying to break into a home. The person took off and with the help of the iPad and camera a crime was thwarted.  

The iPad is the first extension of more extensive plans to further enhance security in Hewlett Harbor, Weiss said. One plan includes having multiple cameras on the iPad screen.