Daley defends surveillance cameras, wants more
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter February 8, 2011 1:50PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Chicago’s network of more than 10,000 public and private surveillance cameras has solved crimes, prevented police misconduct and made residents feel safe, Mayor Daley said Tuesday, rejecting the American Civil Liberties Union’s call for a moratorium on new cameras and strict controls on existing ones.
One day after the ACLU proposed reining in the Big Brother program, Daley talked about expanding it to prevent senior citizens living in high-crime neighborhoods from becoming prisoners in their homes.
“Don’t you think we should be concerned for seniors that someone is standing out there at 2 o’clock in the morning or 8 o’clock in the morning? A senior is going to church in the morning. Don’t you think that senior should be protected as he or she leaves a building or their home?” Daley said after ribbon-cutting ceremonies at a new senior citizens complex in Pilsen.
“What cameras are is to prevent crime — to tell criminals, ‘Yes, you are gonna be focused [on].’ There’s nothing wrong with that. And to have the good citizens, use our sidewalk and our parks, have our children go to and from school. Have our families go to and from church and feel comfortable. We’re not spying on anybody. This is the public way. We’re not spying or identifying or racial profiling anyone.”
Daley noted the demand for surveillance cameras “came from the people” — not from the politicians.
They wanted “a better way of identifying people and preventing crime,” he said.
“That’s what cameras do. How did we solve the Tuscon shooting spree? The camera. If we did not have a camera, police usually go out and round up the local suspects, bring everybody into the police station and try to figure this out. Accumulated time,” he said.
“Cameras identify the individual who has committed the crime. Simple as that. It saves you an enormous amount of money for taxpayers. ... It also saves a lot of — not intentional, but some misconduct by police officers because you have the picture.”
In addition to prohibiting new cameras, the ACLU wants to restrict the use of zoom lenses, facial recognition technology and the ability to track a person’s movements from one vehicle to the next. Those tactics would be limited to instances when a crime is suspected.
Daley considers those restrictions absurd.
“Then, we’ll have to go to the court system and ask a judge who’s sleeping tonight at 2 in the morning and say, ‘Judge, we have probable cause.’ The person is walking down 22nd Street. By the time we get there, the person is already at Halsted Street,” said Daley, a former state’s attorney.
Chicago’s camera network is widely viewed as the most extensive and integrated in the nation. Daley has called it the “next best thing” to a police officer on every corner and said he’d like to see a camera on every corner.
He’s not about to stop now, even though the ACLU believes the $60 million price tag would be better spent on hiring more police.
“An enormous amount of cases were solved overwhelmingly by a camera: identification of a car, a license plate and a face. ... This is one of the better programs in saving taxpayers money and also not allowing abuse,” he said.
Mayoral challenger Rahm Emanuel was a bit more open to reforms, even as he acknowledged that “cameras can be helpful in fighting crime.”
“We have to give people confidence in what those cameras are doing. ... The city has an obligation for a level of trust ... which means more transparency and more information about those cameras,” he said.