LAWRENCE (CBS) – Is it an effective crime fighting tool or is big brother watching? The city of Lawrence has put up dozens of cameras at busy intersections with the police watching the feeds.
“The reality is, fighting crime today is a multi-faceted approach,” says Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera. He’s talking about surveillance cameras the city has installed; 110 of them so far.
The video is sent to Lawrence Police headquarters. Police chief Roy Vasque says information from the cameras has already helped them fight crime. “In the short time we’ve been deploying these cameras, as we’ve been rolling out to this point, we’ve had a great success already,” he says.
Chief Vasque says the cameras have helped with a bank robbery, and just this morning spotted someone illegally dumping. “I think it’s going to really multiply what we’re able to do here and secure the city,” Vasque says.
“This is just another step to modernize crime fighting in the city of Lawrence,” adds Mayor Rivera.
But not everyone sees a surveillance camera and likes it. The Massachusetts ACLU has challenged the city on privacy grounds, saying authorities haven’t set strict enough limits on the use of the cameras, some of which can zoom in. Others are mobile and can be deployed where the police say they need them.
The city disagrees. “No one is giving up privacy for security. This is not big brother looking into your bedroom or your living room. This is about fighting crime,” the Mayor says.
The privacy concerns are ongoing issues wherever government surveillance cameras are in use. The city of Lawrence plans to install 35 more cameras by the fall.