With a shortage of police officers, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt wants surveillance cameras on downtown streets, apartment complexes and shopping malls – and in extreme situations, private homes, says the Houston Chronicle. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Hurtt said. The police department may install five video cameras downtown. Hurt suggested that new apartment complexes and malls be required, as part of the building-permit process, to provide security cameras. Asked whether the need for cameras extends to private homes, he said, “If they’re putting a burden on the criminal justice system and cheating the other residents of Houston, yes.”
The downtown-camera project already has a group to fund it: the Houston Downtown Management District. “The goal is for people to feel safe,” said Bob Eury of the management agency, who compared the cameras to those at shopping malls. “We’re finding new ways to make it basically safer in reality and perception.” Mayor Bill White, who must approve the camera program, said, “There’s a legitimate right to privacy.” He added, “If there are some crime hot spots, then we want something where we don’t have to have uniformed officers staring at a particular spot 24 hours a day.” Some privacy advocates questioned whether apartment owners should be required to install cameras. “It’s radical and unheard-of,” said Scott Henson of the American Civil Liberties Union.