Surveillance police cameras across Denver nearly quadrupled for the Democratic National Convention, from 13 to 63, and now those cameras are taking aim at daily crime, says the Denver Post. Last week, an officer in police headquarters monitored cameras and was able to describe drug-deal suspects to cops on the street who made seven arrests in about 90 minutes, said Denver police Lt. Ernest Martinez. “It’s not a panacea,” he said. “It’s a tool to fight crime.” The cameras, which cost about $25,000 each, have a range of about a city block and can zoom in with great clarity. As part of DNC security, the cameras were purchased with federal funds, with no initial costs to the Police Department or city.
Police plan to use civilians to monitor the cameras so they don’t tie up officers. Typically one person will watch the cameras, which digitally record information 24 hours a day and store the data for up to 30 days. City Council member Doug Linkhart, voiced concerns about possible privacy issues. “The public has a right to be wary,” Linkhart said. Police will be on guard against violating anyone’s constitutional rights while using the cameras, Martinez said. The cameras are in public spaces and public rights of way, he stressed. Signs informing people about cameras will be posted. Mark Silverstein of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado said, “A program that assigns police to monitor public spaces through video surveillance has the potential to erode privacy, inhibit freedom and chill public expression in public places,” he said. “There is something terribly invasive about police employees watching us with sophisticated cameras.”