NYPD seeks to expand surveillance cameras, license plate readers
If New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has his way, surveillance cameras will blanket the entire midtown area of New York City.
Kelly says he intends to pattern the surveillance system after the "ring of steel" system now used in London. "That would mean the cameras and the license plate readers and coordinate it from the new coordination center located in lower Manhattan," said Kelly. The system is intended as an "anti-terrorism" measure.
"The idea, Kelly testified before a City Council committee, is to allow police to do everything they do downtown - scan license plates, monitor surveillance video cameras and use radiation and bioterrorism detectors - between 34th and 59th streets, from river to river," Newsday reports. The NYPD has already obtained most of the necessary $92 million but federal grant funds are needed to complete the project.
The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Police Department, questioning how citizens' privacy will be balanced against security concerns.
"The NYPD must not spend vast amounts of public money blanketing downtown and Midtown Manhattan in surveillance cameras without any public discussion of its plans and without clear privacy protections," Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union executive director, said. "The City Council must establish a formal public review process for these surveillance proposals and a statutory scheme to safeguard the privacy of millions of law-abiding New Yorkers."
"The Department's proposed privacy guidelines are entirely illusory and contain no real protection," said Christopher Dunn. "Our elected lawmakers need step in and subject this entire surveillance system to a thorough public review."
This video is from CBS 2 New York, broadcast April 1, 2009.
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