December 15, 2008

Saying “Enough?” [10:24 am]

Or something else? Brookline wary of surveillance cameras (pdf)

Even as eight other cities and towns across Greater Boston prepare to more than double, to 183, the number of security cameras monitoring their streets, Brookline is threatening to reject the cameras, as town officials confront a brewing rebellion of residents decrying the rise of a “surveillance society.”

[...] “The overarching concern is what kind of society are we creating, where general police surveillance cameras are in operation,” said Sarah Wunsch, an attorney for the ACLU. “You cannot assume that we will always be a free society, and we are putting the structures in place that would allow a very different United States of America from the one we have lived in.”

Wunsch, a Brookline resident, scoffed at the notion of the cameras’ use as a traffic management tool during an emergency.

“The people who live in town laugh at that because the town can’t prevent gridlock at rush hour,” she said. “To say these cameras are going to help traffic during an evacuation is, quite frankly, ludicrous. Using cameras for that purpose, most people think, is crazy.”

Brookline Police Chief Daniel C. O’Leary said the cameras could help manage traffic and investigate crime. “It’s a valuable tool that I don’t want to lose, and I think the value goes beyond just managing an evacuation,” he said. “There are everyday uses that a lot of people could benefit from.”

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