Almost two weeks after WSB broke the news about a network of surveillance cameras going up in West Seattle and beyond, Mayor McGinn is promising a “public vetting” before they go into operation. We had asked multiple times for his comments, and received this statement this afternoon via spokesperson Aaron Pickus:
I’ve directed the Seattle Police Department to brief any community groups or media interested in the port security system. The system will not be operated until a thorough public vetting of the system has been completed and the public has provided input. I will also be seeking input from other partners and beneficiaries of the system, including the Port, Coast Guard, fire department, and other public safety and transportation agencies, before any operational decisions are made.
No details yet on what will constitute the “thorough public vetting.” The camera network is funded – along with an accompanying “wireless mesh” communications system – by a $5 million federal Homeland Security grant that the City Council OK’d last May, as reported here January 31st. (On followup, Pickus says the outreach will be done through SPD.)
The first elected city official to publicly voice concerns about the camera network, Councilmember (and mayoral candidate) Tim Burgess, told WSB he found it “borderline problematic.” We reported his reaction last Thursday, along with news that the mayor announced the city would scrap a different Homeland Security-funded camera project, the so-called “drones.” This updated map of the system was in that same report:
(Click image for full zoomable PDF version of new map)
The first time we saw the entire camera-network map, Golden Gardens to Fauntleroy, was during an interview with the SPD Assistant Chief in charge of the project, Paul McDonagh, commander of the Special Operations Bureau (our reports on that interview were published February 1st and February 4th). At the time, he told us there were no plans for public briefings/discussions related to the system.