Seattle Police surveillance cameras: Council committee to discuss Feb. 20

(The southernmost camera, by the Fauntleroy ferry dock)
The City Council committee that first approved receiving a federal grant for the surveillance cameras that are going up in West Seattle and elsewhere will take another look at it next week. That’s what Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee (and a candidate for mayor), told WSB late today, as part of a lengthy response to our request for comment:

I have scheduled SPD to be at the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee on February 20, 2pm to discuss this issue. The committee is currently examining legislation to prevent the cameras from operating in residential zones and disabling the 360 degree feature to prevent the cameras from viewing any residential buildings. I am requiring legislation to restrict its use and protect the public’s privacy before they can go online. I have always asked SPD to be proactive in its community outreach and SPD should have held meetings with the community adjacent to the proposed locations before any installations.

More to come on Councilmember Harrell’s plan. It’s been two weeks since we broke the news about the camera network, after WSB readers noticed two of the half-dozen cameras that by that time were clearly visible in the greater Alki area. Back on Monday, we reported Mayor McGinn’s first public comments on the cameras, including his promise of a “thorough public vetting” before they become operational. The 30-camera network is planned to stretch from Golden Gardens in Ballard southward to the camera you see in our photo, next to the Fauntleroy ferry dock.

8 Replies to "Seattle Police surveillance cameras: Council committee to discuss Feb. 20"

  • wetone February 14, 2013 (9:47 am)

    Sounds like ol Bruce Harrell is trying to salvage his run for mayor. It’s to late on that one for me. The way he has handled this issue and many others he has been involved with is not a person I want involved with a city I live in. Harrell along with most the city council and SPD Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh have not told the truth (lied) about the true intentions of this project from the start and have continued to do so. 5 mil badly spent, don’t care where it came from, and more will be spent defending their butts. The only way I would have ever believed these cameras had anything to do with the port is if they were all mounted on the water side and up towards the top of the poles for real views of the waterfront and port areas. As far as blocking out areas ? It would take a hard shield mounted to camera, as this group of people involved with project I wound never trust. Still haven’t heard from Coast Guard and Port of Seattle Police on this project ? I find that very strange as they cover the water and port. By the way cameras were mounted right first time around and changed after questions.

  • OrdinaryCitizen February 14, 2013 (12:03 pm)

    Good points wetone. Where is the Port or Coast Guard on this one?

  • Jim P. February 14, 2013 (4:16 pm)

    An alert and informed citizenry is the best defense against government run amok.

    If I want surveillance cameras watching my property, I will install them and I will control then.

    I’m not (generally) a right wing-nut but it is not an issue of right vs. left to protect ourselves from the iron-clad tendency of any government agency to just keep growing and growing and doing more and more things without bothering the public for annoyances like hearings or even if we want such things.

  • cami February 14, 2013 (4:38 pm)

    Is this a public meeting?

    • WSB February 14, 2013 (4:52 pm)

      Yes. It’s the regular meeting of the committee at City Hall downtown. There is usually a public-comment period for such meetings. I will be writing more about it tomorrow, am waiting to see the agenda.

  • Gene February 14, 2013 (6:37 pm)

    Paranoia strikes deep– into your life it will creep!

  • JayDee February 14, 2013 (9:17 pm)

    As I have said before Gene, it is only paranoia if they aren’t trying to get you.

    Just because the courts have determined that citizens have no expectation of privacy in public places doesn’t automatically mean that the government has a responsibility to photograph/film/face recognition them either. If the citizens do not support the idea/operation of camera surveillance 24/7 then the city council and the police department should not either. It is not a big deal. If you want to prevent crime, hire and deploy more police on foot, bike or worst, car. If you want to document a crime, take crappy pictures of it.

    Courts can also reverse earlier rulings when opinion turns against the general idea of eternal surveillance.

  • Rod February 17, 2013 (9:04 am)

    Just because you aren’t paranoid doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be.
    Like I said in my previous comments earlier in the month “I am okay with police on the street but who is behind the cameras zeroing in on couples on the beach having a snuggle and a few kisses or your children playing on the beach. We know a police officer to see one and they know because they are visible to the public how to behave and what actions they can legally take. We don’t know who is watching us and our children through the camera lens.” Sound paranoid, maybe? Many times individuals with criminal intent have conned their way into places of trust to steal from or abuse the vulnerable. We need to know who the people are monitoring us and our children. Better still tag and monitor criminals instead of covertly spying on lawful citizens. Again and again those that commit crime have more freedom and protection than the victims of crime. Just being monitored makes us all victims of crime.
    And while I’m at it there’s that 360 degree viewing that us going to be “disabled” until when?
    These after the fact bandages are just political feel better see we’er going to listen to you now type of weak leadership propaganda that politicians use to deflect criticism after that fact when initially they kept the truth from their constituents. Make your elected officials more accountable for their actions. Vote them out next time around and make it known why. constituents. Make your elected officials more accountable for their actions. Vote them out next time around and make it known why.

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