Los Angeles police plan to install at least a dozen sureillance cameras at the Jordan Downs housing project, a 700-unit complex that is among the city’s most dangerous and blighted communities. In a carrot-and-stick twist, the cameras will provide the projects’ 2,400 residents and some of its Watts neighbors with free wireless Internet access. Funding for the project, which will come from Motorola and the federal Housing and Urban Development department, through the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, is in its final stages, but Police Chief William J. Bratton already has announced it to the Police Commission. The LAPD has used surveillance cameras to clean up MacArthur Park and Hollywood Boulevard, but the Jordan Downs project is the first in the city to focus on an exclusively residential area.
Many residents and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California view the plan to stream live video of residents’ comings and goings to patrol cars and squad rooms as an invasion of privacy. “I wouldn’t want the LAPD to watch me day to day,” said resident David Valencia, 37. “Mexicans and blacks don’t usually agree on anything around it. But none of us want to be watched.”