These days citizens take their liberty in their own hands by recording public police activities with video cameras. So, with trepidation, I read the Sacramento Bee article headlined, “Cameras to help Sacramento police monitor events, hotspots“.
Let’s take it slowly boings and giils. (Sorry for that inside family joke from my childhood; I couldn’t resist. My siblings will get it.) First:
The Sacramento Police Department announced that it will use new surveillance cameras to help monitor large-scale events and specific areas within the city.
The Police Department was awarded $600,000 by the California Emergency Management Agency to purchase the equipment as part of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s efforts to obtain additional funds for public safety, according to a news release.
It already smacks of citizen surveillance. What will happen if, in response, citizens begin large-scale videotaping of the police? It’s making me uneasy and we’re only two grafs in! What will the money be used for?
- Three mobile closed captioned television surveillance trailers equipped with surveillance and license-plate recognition cameras.
Yep, it’s surveillance alright. And plate-recognition, too! What’s next, face recognition? Where will these cameras be? (Click below for Google Maps of the intersections.)
- Thirteen fixed surveillance cameras, located at Del Paso Boulevard and Forrest Street, Mack Road and Center Parkway, Seventh and K streets, Eighth and K streets, Alkali Flat light-rail station, and the Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way light-rail station.
Having lived in six different Sacramento neighborhoods over 20 years, I recognize all these places, and none of them are savory locations. But I’m still against surveillance, red-light cameras, and the like. I just don’t buy the line that “it’s for your own good; trust us.”
OK. What else?
- Equipment to store video surveillance data for a 30-day period.
Given recent TSA lies about the storage capabilities of body scanners, should we believe the Sacramento Police Department? Pardon me if I withhold my trust.
And if all that wasn’t enough:
- Shared access to more than 60 Regional Transit surveillance cameras. Funding was used to connect Regional Transit and the Sacramento Police networks to access their video surveillance cameras.
Wonderful. Riding the light rail means you’re on camera for the cops. Don’t get me wrong. I trust individual cops to do the right thing, most of the time. I don’t trust the “civilian” parts of government to make the right decisions when implementing such systems, or when using/storing such data. It’s a slippery slope we’re on…