New Orleans is one of the latest cities to install a crime-surveillance-camera system, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Cameras are positioned at “hot spots” across a key police district. The camera network is touted by police officials for its production of valuable courtroom evidence and by Mayor Ray Nagin as a key component in an assault on crime. Enthusiastic backers suggest that videotaped evidence day prove more persuasive than a cop’s word on the witness stand.
A $4.5 million contract calls for 240 cameras, including an unspecified number designed to combat terrorism. Nagin aides had earlier said they intended to deploy 1,000 cameras. Reaching that figure will require an infusion of funds from neighborhood organizations, churches, businesses, and private residents willing to “adopt” and pay for cameras as well as contributions from the Housing Authority of New Orleans. City officials said only law enforcement personnel, not the people or groups paying for the cameras, will have access to the recorded images. By year’s end, officials say district commanders will be able to deliver still images as well as live-action transmissions to the laptop computers in patrol cars, giving officers an opportunity to size up a potentially dangerous situation en route to a crime scene.