Washington, D.C.’s emergency anticrime law gives the police chief far more power in using surveillance cameras as crime-fighting tools than some of his counterparts in other cities, reports the Washington Times. Chief Charles Ramsey has final say on placement of the 23 surveillance cameras that are costing the city $2.3 million. He must tell a D.C. Council member and a local neighborhood commissioner of his intention to place a camera in their jurisdiction.
San Francisco has set up 33 “neighborhood safety cameras.” The devices can be deployed only on a recommendation of the mayor’s director of the Office of Criminal Justice after a public hearing before the civilian police commission. Chicago’s network of about 170 surveillance cameras is not under the control of the police chief, but the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The cameras are easily identifiable and bear the police department logo. Arthur Spitzer of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., said it is “a good idea” not to give police departments exclusive control of surveillance networks.