ACLU of Northern California Urges Fresno City Council to Reject Video Surveillance Cameras

June 16, 2006 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California urged the Fresno City Council not to spend $1.2 million for 75 video surveillance cameras, which the ACLU says pose a significant threat to privacy rights and are ineffective in deterring crime.

“The $1.2 million budgeted for surveillance cameras could be used in much more effective ways such as increased foot patrols, community policing and improved lighting in neighborhoods with high crime rates,” said Mark Schlosberg, Police Practices Policy Director of the ACLU of Northern California. “Multiple studies have shown that surveillance cameras are ineffective in reducing crime and pose serious privacy concerns.”

The ACLU submitted a formal letter to the city council yesterday urging them to vote in favor of a pending motion to remove the funding from the budget. The Fresno Police Department has said they would like to eventually have “several hundred cameras around town,” But the ACLU warned that such a massive surveillance program could chill speech and associated activity of innocent Fresno residents. The city council may vote on the issue as early as next week.

“This could quickly lead to a replay of what has happened in Great Britain,” said Schlosberg. “In London, there is a camera for every 13 people and the average person is photographed over 300 times a day. Is this the kind of community we want to live in?”

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