Seattle Police surveillance cameras: Alki Point off the list

We’ve just finished covering the third and, it appears, final Seattle Police-led public meeting about the surveillance cameras they’ve installed along with a wireless communication system, paid for by federal Department of Homeland Security dollars. For those who are interested but couldn’t make the meeting – announced last Tuesday night, held on this pre-holiday-weekend Friday night – we rolled video on the entire meeting and will upload it when we’re back at WSB HQ. The attendees who weren’t media or police numbered about eight. A few toplines, right now:

*The system first envisioned as having 30 cameras will total 28 – an Alki Point site near the lighthouse didn’t work out technically, SPD says. As previously announced, they also dropped a camera planned for Golden Gardens, which is where tonight’s meeting was held. All but one of the 28 cameras are now installed; the 28th, in Shilshole just outside Golden Gardens, is awaiting a fix for a cracked pole. (At right, one of the two cameras in central Alki.)

*The southernmost camera, on Fauntleroy Way over the southbound bus stop by the ferry dock, might focus on traffic bound for the dock, by request of Washington State Ferries, but SPD says that agency’s request for view-only access to the cameras hasn’t yet been approved.

*The nine camera locations on/near the downtown waterfront are “temporary” and likely to change because of the tunnel/seawall construction.

*The e-mail account set up by SPD for feedback on the camera system – – has received a total of “about 20” e-mails, 80 percent of them expressing opposition/concern.

Otherwise, the meeting followed the same format of the previous two, held in March on Alki and in Belltown, also led by Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh and Det. Monty Moss. SPD was also represented tonight by public affairs Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. What’s next: Mayor McGinn had said the cameras wouldn’t get the green light until a “thorough public vetting” had taken place so we’ll be checking with his office post-holiday-weekend. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, the aforementioned e-mailbox remains open.

ADDED SATURDAY MORNING, 9:24 AM: Our meeting video is finally ready, and is now atop this story.

20 Replies to "Seattle Police surveillance cameras: Alki Point off the list"

  • Citizen May 24, 2013 (10:56 pm)

    @ Civik and Mike who posted about the meeting time:
    I agree. Also, Asst Chief McDonagh and Det Moss speak as if it will happen. Their language did not reflect IF it will. They seem to think it’s all but ‘in the bag’. Outside the building, a sign said “Private Event”. This doesnt feel like this is being taken seriously by SPD or our elected officials. See what the potential of this technology at sued over secretive mass survelliance program -RT USA

  • K'lo May 25, 2013 (5:44 am)

    It was my understanding that these cameras were for ‘harbor security’ reasons. So this condition has changed? I thought it odd that some of these cameras were directed to the street, not the water. Just sayin’.

  • w.s. maverick May 25, 2013 (8:10 am)

    no cameras people can protect themselves

  • Silly Goose May 25, 2013 (8:26 am)

    Bring those camera’s to the Morgan Junction Area, we have so many criminals right now breaking into our homes, cars, etc. We need camera’s starting at the corner of Graham and California Ave.

  • cj May 25, 2013 (8:34 am)

    My guess is it will only take one more major crime in that area to get those cameras running.

  • JMHC May 25, 2013 (9:07 am)

    Ask yourself this-
    Would the Boston bombing incident have been solved WITHOUT modern surveillance equipment??
    Cameras, detection equipment, helicopters with thermal imaging gear??
    The answer is NO !!
    Look at New York City – Times Square has NYPD cameras in plain sight EVERYWHERE.
    There is no privacy in public spaces, period.
    I’m glad the cameras are there – I just hope they are up and running before the “Big One” happens…

  • LivesInWS May 25, 2013 (9:12 am)

    Was the Boston bombing prevented with modern surveillance equipment?


  • Janb May 25, 2013 (9:41 am)

    Thanks as always for the great coverage, WSB. Commenters, just want to point out this site:, also on twitter at @seattleprivacy. We’re advocating for civilian oversight of data management and sharing protocols.

  • All for it May 25, 2013 (10:21 am)

    Yeah, we get it. Putting up cameras wont stop someone determined to set off a nuke. I would however like to see them used to deter the person that tagged every garbage can(3 more not shown) under the camera at admiral (see the pic in the other article). If you let that place get nasty enough eventually the crimes there will get worse. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”….

  • Molly May 25, 2013 (10:23 am)

    The stated purpose of the grant money is “for the protection of critical port infrastructure from terrorism”. If the SPD is using this money for a different purpose, as a non-terrorism crime deterring/solving tool, then the discussion should be on whether we want to spend $5 million tax dollars on unproven technology, or on say, hiring more police officers.

    Blowback terrorists don’t seem to be deterred by cameras, if anything the recent London beheading shows that they are seeking media attention and may be drawn to a filmed area. If prevention is the goal we should change our interventionist foreign policy. And not create a totalitarian surveillance infrastructure that suppresses the free speech and assembly that are necessary to discuss and change flawed ideologies like Al Qaeda.

  • they May 25, 2013 (10:37 am)

    As long as I can go to a web page to view real time images from any cameras placed in Seattle I’m all for it. Anything less than that would be reason for suspicion.

  • derrick May 25, 2013 (12:19 pm)

    oh no, someone tagging a garbage can! yes let’s give up civil liberties so that someone will be slightly less likely to besmirch my pristine garbage cans… great plan.

    while I’m sure that some people here want the country to turn into a 1984 police state. I for one actually like the constitution, whereby the government must suspect someone of a crime before searching their person or property (not to mention the potential abuses of freedom of assembly that these cameras bring about)

  • G May 25, 2013 (4:30 pm)

    In a city of absurd political correctness, where I feel like I have to watch everything I say and do 24/7, the uproar over a few cameras seems like a tempest in a teapot.

  • Curtis May 25, 2013 (6:46 pm)

    I’m confused – what could possibly be the problem with these cameras? They are in public areas, right? If they are looking over the fence into my yard or through my windows, then yeah, not cool. Other than that, I simply don’t see what right I would give up.

  • Kermit May 26, 2013 (12:10 am)


    What civil liberties are you referring to? Surely you aren’t ignorant enough to believe that you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” while in public are you? Also, as a self-proclaimed fan of the constitution, please tell me where a right to “privacy” is mentioned anywhere…

  • cratewasher May 26, 2013 (7:11 am)

    When in public, or at a public event, you may be photographed.
    You have no reasonable expectation of visual “privacy” in public.

  • oldcolonial May 26, 2013 (11:17 am)

    Folks objecting to public surveillance cameras are like the folks who object to registering our guns. Both systems are proven to work for the safety of our families and neighbors.

  • sardine May 26, 2013 (11:56 am)

    Too bad, those cameras would have been a good idea. This is a public area that consistantly attracts trouble during the summer months.

  • Molly May 26, 2013 (1:15 pm)

    @oldcolonial – it would be helpful if you could cite the evidence that proves that government run surveillance cameras keep us safe from terrorism.

  • wetone May 28, 2013 (11:27 am)

    I find it comical how many people are trusting the SPD, Chief McDonagh and Det Moss on this project. They started off not telling the truth and have continued changing their story as needed to push this project through. The original intended purpose of these cameras keeps changing farther away from Port Security every time they open their mouths. This was a fraudulent waste of 5 million dollars from Homeland security and should have been spent for intended purpose. Cameras will never stop crime, it might help see who commits one, but is rarely if ever used to prosecute. With the money they have spent on this project and the money they will need to maintain and operate this system the city could hire more police officers and have them placed where the cameras are. That would work much better than a any camera. If they SPD would have been truthful about their intentions from the start I might feel different, but they have done the opposite. Scheduling a Friday night meeting before a three day weekend says it all…..

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