Seattle Police surveillance cameras: Harrell wants physical shielding

June 5, 2013 at 9:09 pm | In Seattle Police surveillance cameras, West Seattle news | 15 Comments

We’re just out of the Southwest District Council‘s monthly meeting, where one of the guests was City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the committee that oversees public safety and technology. His committee was the one that originally signed off on the Seattle Police grant that led to the surveillance cameras that have been put up along with a “wireless mesh” communications system. Since SPD indicated that the third public meeting about the cameras, which we covered at Golden Gardens two weeks ago, would be the last, we’ve been trying to find out the next step; Mayor McGinn‘s office told us this week they don’t have a timetable for making a decision.

Tonight, Harrell – a candidate for mayor – was asked about the cameras during the SWDC meeting, and he indicated his primary concern is the fact they can “rotate” toward residential areas. Asked to clarify whether he supports activation of the more than two dozen cameras now installed, he said only if they either are rendered physically incapable of rotating toward residential areas, or if some sort of physical shield is placed preventing them from ever “seeing” residential areas. He said that’s what he wants to see instead of the programmed “masking” that SPD Det. Monty Moss, who heads up the program, has repeatedly demonstrated. Asked when the camera issue would come back before his committee, Harrell said he first wants a written briefing from SPD about the protocol for camera use here in West Seattle; he’s been verbally briefed, he said, but he wants to see the plan in writing. It’s been three months since his committee vetted a new city law requiring that type of documentation, and more, before the city could use surveillance cameras. (Our coverage of the surveillance cameras dates back to late January, when we learned about them after WSB readers noticed their unannounced installation; our archive, newest to oldest, is here.)

His appearance touched on other topics, and the council also heard from Department of Planning and Development Director Diane Sugimura regarding two current hot-button issues, small-lot homes and microhousng; toplines to be reported separately.

15 Comments

  1. Toise cameras are here to stay. If they’re pointing right into your windows, oh well.

    Here’s how this works. The cameras go up. Footage is collected, but not tracked. A crime happens, so footage is suddenly reviewed. At this point, everything is game for police.

    I feel safe living well off of a major street, but these cops need to have a better guarantee than a legal one. At the point where a camera is hung, it’s only a matter of time before SPD “would be remiss to dismiss this evidence”.

    Comment by yeah right — 10:05 pm June 5, 2013 #

  2. Paranoia will destroy ya

    Comment by First world problem — 7:10 am June 6, 2013 #

  3. Those that protest the most usually have the most to hide.

    Comment by satisfied — 7:27 am June 6, 2013 #

  4. I like Harrell’s idea for protection of privacy. In addition, how about we hire more qualified police for SPD and put them on the ground to do their job in person? Can we also ban the neighbors with their web cam pointing outside, that would need to go side by side with Harrell’s plan.

    Comment by Mike — 8:32 am June 6, 2013 #

  5. LOL, @ satisfied, did that comment come from a
    “Fortune Cookie”? LOL

    Comment by let them swim — 8:51 am June 6, 2013 #

  6. Why has no one been complaining about being “watched” every time they go into Key Bank, or Safeway, or Metropolitan Market, or Target, or any nearly any street downtown in Seattle? You DO know they have cameras and are recording you right?

    I understand being a little freaked out about “being watched” but this is NOT something new, and it’s done in nearly EVERY other location once you step our your front door. The only thing I don’t understand is why THIS particular set of cameras got folks SO concerned, and none of the others. You have NO right to privacy outside on a public sidewalk. The police can walk behind you, drive by you in car, or in this case watch you on a camera. You ONLY have the right to privacy in your own land/home (unless the NSA is secretly watching you through you computer webcam, now THAT is paranoia ;-)

    Comment by Alki Area — 9:15 am June 6, 2013 #

  7. It will be some reason, for the children that the cameras will be activated, full coverage, images retained – for the children will be the reason.
    Don’t know how it will be connected, it does not matter,
    “For the Children!” is enough to do anything.
    As in any fundamentalist belief, invoking the rule means no further thought is required.
    And so, satisfied, you will be the first subject of complete 24 hour videotaping of your entire life to be played for all, in perpetuity,”For the Children”.
    It will be called “Nothing to Hide”, starring you!

    Comment by old timer — 9:16 am June 6, 2013 #

  8. Alki Area wrote: “Why has no one been complaining about being “watched” every time they go into Key Bank, or Safeway, or Metropolitan Market, or Target, or any nearly any street downtown in Seattle?”

    Obvious reason – those are not government cameras. Been paying atttention to the news lately (phone recodrds, IRS scandal etc).?

    Of course it may not matter that the images are owned by a private business anymore, given that the government is now essentially taking ownership of the data held by phone companies.

    Which is exactly why this issue is a big deal. There is very little reason to put full trust in our government.

    Comment by rico — 9:44 am June 6, 2013 #

  9. Here’s another aphorism for satisfied fortune cookie, “the end justifies the means”

    Another point, just because the public let slip through something bad before, is no reason to compound the error. Perhaps in the before case, the public wasn’t notified. This almost happened in the case.

    Comment by citizen — 10:01 am June 6, 2013 #

  10. Well I don’t care if I’m recorded on camera at Target. I do care if I’m recorded at home on my deck though.

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 11:55 am June 6, 2013 #

  11. Why is this up for discussion? I thought the cameras had to be up and running by March 31st or the federal force fed grant would be taken away. That threat was made to push this project through! Did I miss something? It was March 2013 right? Take em down and send em back.

    Comment by j — 12:08 pm June 6, 2013 #

  12. Listening to SPD at the meetings they *had* to hold in the name of “vetting” the project, they will make it operational soon.

    Comment by citizen — 5:31 pm June 6, 2013 #

  13. How do you know they are not on now ? Humm

    Comment by wetone — 7:28 pm June 6, 2013 #

  14. I think the shielding is good just for protecting those expensive cameras, secondly anyone dumb enough to mess with those cameras on alki is retarded, its like vegas that part of town someone is always awake. Retired life is nice, you can sit on your deck all night.

    Comment by Jesse — 3:28 am June 7, 2013 #

  15. “You ONLY have the right to privacy in your own land/home (unless the NSA is secretly watching you through you computer webcam, now THAT is paranoia ;-)” -Alki Area

    Now that NSA’s Prism program is all over the news in the last few days, how’s that paranoia treating you? :)

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/06/america-through-the-nsas-prism.html

    Comment by Gharp — 12:18 pm June 7, 2013 #

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