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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ramsey County sheriff demos new surveillance cameras

Topic requested...Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Anonymous Pioneer Press said...

Fletcher's wireless communication system raises privacy issues for some
By Tad Vezner
Updated: 01/26/2010 11:31:09 PM CST

A batch of new, public-owned cameras in Ramsey County has the sheriff buzzing.

It's not that he thinks they'll capture anything he hasn't seen before. The eight initial cameras are installed in county-owned parking lots, including those at the Gustafson-Phalen and Highland ice arenas. The hope is that added surveillance will help solve car thefts.

The cameras are cheap and versatile, according to Sheriff Bob Fletcher. Wireless signals, like those of a cell phone, can be transmitted to a new surveillance center at department headquarters, to an officer's cell phone or even to a home computer with the right user name and password.

The surveillance center, barely big enough for a bank of six large flat-screens and a pair of well-cushioned chairs, allows those watching to pivot and zoom the high-resolution cameras, switch between them and squad-car cameras — or even cameras on individual officers' cell phones.

"Communication is no longer voice, no longer text," Fletcher said during a news conference Tuesday, watching footage from an officer's cell phone camera as he walked down a nearby hall, all transmitted by the cell-phone signal. "This officer doesn't have to spend time telling us what's going on."

Putting the pieces together with a wireless network, Fletcher claimed, has yet to be done by a U.S. law enforcement agency.

With the help of 200 trained volunteers, Fletcher said, he hopes to have eyes on the cameras' footage every evening — either at the center or at home. Additionally, he hopes to get the camera total up to 30 by summer, in more county lots and places such as county parks. By late February, he wants to place two on the department's Web site for all to see. The more eyes, the better.
But some civil liberties advocates are voicing concerns.

"While it's true that you should have no expectation of privacy walking down the street, the ACLU believes strongly that you should have an expectation that you are not being spied on. And there's a difference ... It is, in essence, the 1984 argument," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of ACLU of Minnesota.


9:01 AM  
Anonymous story continued said...

"There is a right to public privacy with association," added Rich Neumeister, a local privacy and open government advocate, who said he has yet to hear a good reason for the cameras. "There has been no consultation with the public ... And they need to articulate a problem that is real, pressing and substantial ... How are they going to evaluate the effectiveness?"

Fletcher said that there are roughly 2,000 car thefts annually countywide and that the cameras were placed specifically in areas where such thefts occurred with high frequency. He called that reason enough for the relatively small number of cameras.

"This isn't ... Jack Bauer launching a drone," Fletcher said. "These are eight fixed cameras."

But Fletcher said a policy relating to the cameras' use was still being drafted, while about 30 volunteers already had gone through training and a background check. He said the policy would be completed by the time the first volunteers were on the job and added that trainers had made clear the cameras would only capture "what a normal person would view as if they were there."

The cameras have a very high level of resolution. To demonstrate, Fletcher focused on a gas station across a highway from the camera. Without being fully zoomed in, footage showed the station in high detail.

"There has to be a criminal predicate ... before we begin capturing data," Fletcher said, adding, "Everyone else on the system sees what you're looking at," creating an internal system of checks and balances.

Samuelson is still skeptical. "This schemata raises the specter of Big Brother, but it takes it one step farther because of the access. It raises the specter that these cameras are more susceptible to misuse. No offense, (but) anything that's hooked up to the Web is not safe. That's the tradeoff that you make."

The price tag — including 16 cameras at $2,000 apiece, the wireless network and six large screens to view them on — is $40,000, which comes from the technology section of the county's capital improvement budget. Fletcher said he hopes to find more money to double the number of cameras.

Tad Vezner can be reached at 651-228-5461

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Political Satire Chicken Shxxt said...

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12:54 PM  
Anonymous Part 2 Political Satire said...

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10:23 PM  
Anonymous Part 3 Political Satire said...

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10:25 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Sharon, what does Nancy's escapades have to do with this topic?

You pissed off the person who requested this topic to the point they don't even want to comment now.

IF, you want Nancy's stuff posted, send the links to me in a format I can understand. I deleted them and no longer have them to link.

I must caution you though. Nancy has earned a reputation of being kinda from the "far side". I grow tired of seeing her beaten up here.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the point of the stupid video? Does she think she will guilt them into changing their ways? hey have to be just laughing their asses off at her after she leaves.

2:21 AM  

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