Seattle Parks Surveillance
MAYOR GREG NICKELS HAD THE PARKS DEPARTMENT INSTALL SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS IN CAL ANDERSON PARK AND THE YESLER COMMUNITY CENTER EARLIER THIS YEAR.
COUNCILMEMBER TOM RASMUSSEN HEADS THE PARKS COMMITTEE. HE SAYS HE WASN'T NOTIFIED ABOUT THE INSTALLATIONS BEFOREHAND. RASMUSSEN SAYS THE MAYOR SHOULD HAVE GONE THROUGH THE COUNCIL:
RASMUSSEN: "These are parks that are more challenging to manage, and that's why we're considering installing cameras, but there was no emergency occurring that required the immediate installation."
THE COUNCIL APPROVED A PARK SURVEILLANCE PROJECT LAST YEAR, THEN PUT THE PLAN ON HOLD.
THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF WASHINGTON STATE REJECTS THE PROJECT. SPOKESWOMAN JENNIFER SHAW SAYS PUBLIC SURVEILLANCE WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL:
SHAW: "Fundamentally we're opposed because we live in a free society and the expectation is that when you're out in public you're not going to be under surveillance by the government. Our primary concern is with government surveillance. Our mission is supporting the bill of rights."
SHAW SAYS IF CAMERAS ARE INSTALLED, ANY TAPE GATHERED SHOULD BE DESTROYED AFTER 24 HOURS. AS IT STANDS, THE VIDEO IS KEPT FOR TWO WEEKS.
NICKELS' SPOKESPERSON MARTY MCOMBER DEFENDS THE MAYOR'S PROCESS. HE SAYS THE MOVE WAS PROMPTED BY A SPIKE IN ROBBERIES, ASSAULTS AND OTHER ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES. HE ADDS THE TAPE CAN ONLY BE USED IN LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES:
MCOMBER: "So if police believe that the cameras did capture a crime and that that footage could be used in a criminal case they can review it. To this point they have not viewed any of the camera footage."
MCOMBER SAYS THERE'S NO LINK BETWEEN THE RECENT CAMERA INSTALLATIONS AND THE PROJECT PUT ON HOLD BY THE CITY COUNCIL. THE COUNCIL WILL VOTE ON PARK SURVEILLANCE RULES NEXT MONTH.
JOHN O'BRIEN, KUOW NEWS.
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