Security cameras proliferate in Manhattan, pleasing police
By TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK- Six could be seen peering out from a chain drug store on Broadway. One protruded awkwardly from the awning of a fast-food restaurant. A supersized, domed version hovered like a flying saucer outside Columbia University.
All were surveillance cameras and _ to the dismay of civil libertarians and with the approval of law enforcement _ they've been multiplying at a dizzying rate all over Manhattan.
"As many as we find, we miss so many more," Alex Stone-Tharp, 21, said on a recent afternoon while combing the streets, clipboard in hand, counting cameras in the scorching heat.
A student at Sarah Lawrence, Stone-Tharp is among a dozen college interns enlisted by the New York Civil Liberties Union to bolster their side of a simmering debate over whether surveillance cameras wrongly encroach on privacy, or effectively combat crime and even terrorism _ as in the London bombings investigation, when the cameras were used to identify the bombers.
The interns have spent the summer stalking Big Brother _ collecting data for an upcoming NYCLU report on the proliferation of cameras trained on streets, sidewalks and other public spaces.
At last count in 1998, the organization found 2,397 cameras used by a wide variety of private businesses and government agencies throughout Manhattan. This time, after canvassing less than a quarter of the borough, the interns so far have spotted more than 4,000.
The preliminary total "only provides a glimpse of the magnitude of the problem," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "Nobody has a clue how many there really are."
But aside from sheer numbers, the NYCLU says it's concerned about the increasing use of newer, more powerful digital cameras that _ unlike boxy older models _ can be controlled remotely and store more images.
The group expects to eventually publicize its findings to convince the public that the cameras should be regulated to preserve privacy and guard against abuses like racial profiling and voyeurism. Privacy advocates have cited a case earlier this year in which a police videotape that captured a suicide at a Bronx housing development later turned up on a pornographic Web site.
The NYCLU plans to post an interactive map on its Web site pinpointing the location of each surveillance camera, and it may include a feature for the camera-shy that would highlight the least-surveilled route between two points.
But the map could be obsolete on arrival.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to spend up to $250 million to install new surveillance cameras in the city's vast subway system. The New York Police Department also has requested funding for about 400 digital video cameras to help combat robberies and burglaries in busy commercial districts.
Police officers already watch live feeds from hundreds of cameras in city housing projects throughout the five boroughs, where "they are a proven deterrent," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
NYPD detectives also regularly rely on private security cameras to help solve crimes. After makeshift grenades exploded outside the British consulate in midtown Manhattan on May 5, they studied scores of videotape and concluded that a still-unidentified cyclist likely tossed the devices before fleeing.
In London, British police used videotape from some of their Underground system's 6,000 cameras to help identify the suicide bombers on July 7 and the suspects in a failed attack on July 21.
Elsewhere, Chicago recently spent roughly $5 million on a 2,000-camera system, which has been credited for reducing crime to its lowest point in some 40 years. In Washington, D.C., Homeland Security officials have announced plans to spend $9.8 million for surveillance cameras and sensors on a rail line near the Capitol. And in Philadelphia, where the city has increasingly relied on video surveillance, cameras caught a murder and ultimately led to the capture of a suspect.
The NYCLU's Lieberman concedes the cameras can help solve crimes. But she claims there's no proof that they deter terrorism or more mundane crime, and some critics say it just pushes crime to where the cameras aren't."No one's saying there should be no video cameras, but let's not look at them as a quick fix," she said.
Whether the cameras threaten or protect society, the interns have encountered hurdles in their counting.
At one point, uniformed officers outside the Federal Reserve Bank demanded identification and warned, "if the information we had fell into the hands of terrorists, it would be a problem," said Peter Pantelis, 20, a student at the University of Pennsylvania.
Susanna Groves, 19, of the University of Michigan, recalled finding herself staring up an ornate streetlight, convinced a hidden camera was snapping pictures of her.
"I know I'm getting paranoid," she said. "But I also know there are a lot of cameras out there."
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 15 of 15
08-18-2005, 01:37 AM #1
NYCLU to help criminals find a easier way around detection.---------I am not kidding.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
08-18-2005, 01:43 AM #2I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
08-18-2005, 01:47 AM #3
- Join Date
- May 2004
- Eastern Central Kansas
someday the aclu will be destroyedFF I
The light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarly shut off due to the current work load. The Mangement
When all else fails USE DUCT-TAPE!!!
My views posted in this fourm are my personal views only and do not reflect on any agencies that I am afiliated with.
08-18-2005, 01:58 AM #4
You know terrorist training camps,recon and cells are pointless. You just need a guy to carry the dirty bomb into NYC. The ACLU has already done the footwork for him.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
08-18-2005, 03:19 AM #5
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Northern Florida
I may be wrong here, but the idea I get from the article is that the NYCLU isn't saying that we dont need the cameras, just that they should be closely regulated. And I can honestly say that I can see their point, especially in the case of documented material winding up on a porn site.
The thing about the ACLU in general is that while the things the government does generally dont bother 99% of us, it will always bother someone. That 1% is who the ACLU fights for. They may not always be right.. hell, sometimes the things they pitch a fit about are downright silly. But they, just like the rest of us, have the right to fight for what they believe in.IAFF - Fire/EMS
08-18-2005, 12:39 PM #6Originally Posted by CaptainMikeyFire Marshal/Safety Officer
"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
Success is when skill meets opportunity
Failure is when fantasy meets reality
08-18-2005, 01:29 PM #7
Too bad the ACLU's headquarters wasn't in the World Trade Center.
08-18-2005, 01:44 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
Install more public cameras.
If the NYPD, say, installed only 1,000 cameras...probably what, 40 officers on a shift could monitor them all?
Through up 25,000 or 75,000 cameras and try to monitor them.
Ain't gonna happen.
They'd be used like London, "Ok, show us the video from camera XYZ so we can see who did this..."
Even with computers and such, the algorithims for tracking vast numbers of individuals or recognizing crimes in progress are nearly mind boggling and I doubt **any** computer improvements will ever equal the human mind in analyzing vast income data feeds.
Bottom line is there isn't a privacy problem, since the only practical use of massive video surveillance is in reviewing the facts after something occurs.
Now anyone want to bet the coed from Sara Lawrence whose out there surveying cameras because they intrude on "privacy" has a cell phone turned on in her pocket with which the cell company can locate here to within a few hundred feet instaneously in NYC? Yep, your cell phone is a far bigger threat to your privacy than any amount of cameras.
08-18-2005, 01:46 PM #9
Pretty ****ty assesment of your view of life, innocent people were killed there along with 343 brothers....mutt.IACOJ Membership 2002
The beatings will continue until the morale improves
08-18-2005, 01:49 PM #10Originally Posted by len1582
Originally Posted by ThNozzleMan
I A C O J
Honorary Disclaimer: While I am a manufacturer representative, I am not here to sell my product. Any advice or knowledge shared is for informational purposes only. I do not use Firehouse.Com for promotional purposes.
08-18-2005, 01:51 PM #11
All that I have to say, is that I can not stand the ACLU.------------------------------------
These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
08-18-2005, 03:53 PM #12
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
Things I'd like to know about surveillance cameras:
Who's monitoring them and what are they supposed to do when they witness a crime?This is like a security guard watching a store's camera displays but not doing anything about seeing a shoplifter.
Will the storage media(assuming VHS is going away)be kept for a given length of time and then disposed of?
Will the cameras also be installed in residential areas,say maybe starting around the homes of the loudest advocates of public surveillance?
08-18-2005, 05:42 PM #13
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
There almost never monitored real-time.
Too damn many of them.
The video is kept digitally (i.e. computerized). Retention time is just up to the resources they want to spend for how long & how fast they want to access them.
CT has had for years a video surveillance along lower I-95 (Fairfield County). If the joint State Police / DOT Command Center at the Bridgeport Barracks is alerted to a slow down in traffic speeds by electronic sensors along the road, then they pull up the video for that section of road.
While there's images normally up on the screens, them seeing something first on video is pretty random -- they're relying on things like the electronic sensors, 911 calls, and troopers over the radio to give them a reason to look at a specific video feed.
Before they started equipping cruisers with video cameras (and heck, they probably still do it to watch the Trooper's backs) when a Trooper would make a stop along 95, the dispatcher would punch up that video and record the stop -- they had the capability to call up particular cameras, and aim / zoom them as well.
08-18-2005, 05:46 PM #14
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
I did not consider that capability.Good idea for instant back up of the officer should the stop go South as they do with distressing frequency.
Cameras in the cruiser does take some discretion from the officer who might have let you go with a warning in the past but now has to write a ticket even if the problem is being taken to be repaired.
Originally Posted by 123456D
08-18-2005, 08:27 PM #15Originally Posted by len1582The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
Users Browsing this Thread
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)