TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: City to Use Cameras in Bid to Fight Crime

City to Use Cameras in Bid to Fight Crime

Monty Solomon (
Sun, 20 Nov 2005 21:56:10 -0500

City to use cameras in bid to fight crime
Chinatown, other sites to get device

By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff

By January, Boston will install about 40 sophisticated surveillance
cameras in Chinatown, along Boston Harbor, and in high-crime areas,
probably including Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday he believes the digital cameras
can be an effective tool against crime. "Any technology or any
operation that we can use that will help us combat violence in the
streets of our city, we're going to look at very seriously," he said
in an interview.

Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole said yesterday that the city
eventually plans to link its cameras with others already in
transportation hubs, housing developments, and private businesses to
help stem a surge in crime.

"We hope to be creative," she said in an interview. "If the drug
unit wants to monitor cameras in the areas where there's been drug
activity, they can do that."

The cameras to be installed in coming weeks were purchased for and
used during the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, but have
been shelved since. Police originally said the cameras would go up in
Chinatown in February.

The delay, officials said, involved getting permission from businesses
and homes to mount the cameras, as well as the technical difficulties
of wiring the cameras.

Civil libertarians, however, said Boston should keep the cameras on
the shelf.

Sarah Wunsch, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of
Massachusetts, said yesterday that cameras have not been effective in
combating crime in Britain, where they have been commonplace since the
1990s. She also said the public should be concerned about the cameras'
power to give the government more information on individual habits.

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