The National Park Service has installed powerful crime surveillance cameras at the top of the Washington Monument. The cameras take up four of the eight windows previously available to visitors to peer down at The Mall.
The Washington Post reports that the cameras are hidden in small plywood closets. The cameras have attracted the attention of Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, (W.Va.), ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee. Rahall has asked the park service whether the cameras aren’t “crosswise with the purpose of the recent $10.5 million restoration . . . which was . . . to enhance visitor appreciation and enjoyment.”
U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers told the Post that the cameras can see a long way, but they are “looking at bridges and those types of things,” and there is a “very strict policy in place with checks and balances. Operators know that this isn’t a toy, and the only time the operator can zoom is when he or she has an articulable suspicion that the person is committing a criminal act.”
If the operators see people passing a suspicious object that could be a weapon, she said, or “suspicious persons attempting to get into cars,” officers would be alerted. The only places where they look, she said, are those “where people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”