New Level Of Cop Video Surveillance In Chicago


Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says his city will be safer after an advanced video surveillance system is set up by 2006, the New York Times reports. “Cameras are the equivalent of hundreds of sets of eyes,” Daley said when he unveiled the new project this month. “They’re the next best thing to having police officers stationed at every potential trouble spot.” Chicago police already can monitor live footage from about 2,000 surveillance cameras around the city; 250 cameras will be added. New computer programs will alert police whenever anyone viewed wanders aimlessly in circles, lingers outside a public building, pulls a car onto a highway shoulder, or leaves a package and walks away from it. Images of those people will be highlighted in color at the city’s central monitoring station. The system was based partly on a video surveillance network in London, which became a world leader in this technology during the period when Irish terrorists were active. Chicago also studied systems used in Las Vegas casinos and by Army combat units. “What we’re doing is a totally new concept,” said Ron Huberman of the office of emergency management and communications. “This is a very innovative way to harness the power of cameras. It’s going to take us to a whole new level.”

Many cities have installed large numbers of surveillance cameras, but it is impossible to monitor all of them. The software central to Chicago’s surveillance system is designed to direct specialists to screens that show anything unusual. Huberman, 32, a former police officer who is what an aide called “a techno geek,” said the new system “should produce a significant decrease in crime, and from a homeland security standpoint it should be able to make our city safer.” Said an American Civil Liberties Union official: “Iit really does raise questions about what kind of society do we ultimately want, and how intrusive we want law enforcement officials to be in all of our lives.”


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