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.
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