New Surveillance Techniques Provide New Challenges

Some of the worries from civil rights groups when it comes to the use of surveillance video is possible abuse.

They want to see mandates for what they describe as basics like when and how the cameras can be used, and how long a department can store footage for.

"The biggest thing we feel is that the technology has outpaced regulation” said David McGuire, the interim Executive Director of the Connecticut ACLU. “A lot of cities and towns who use closed circuit television don't have safeguards against abuse of that technology."

Hartford has kept pace with the most recent trends better than any city or town in the state. The city’s Real Time Crime Center monitors cameras placed all over the city that can pan and zoom, and in some cases they can automatically track individuals who are moving through their view.

The city uses the technology with neighboring cities and towns to assist with investigations.

“In the last ten years the technology has exploded and they're all around the city,” said Deputy Chief Brian Foley, who helps to oversee the Real Time Crime Center. "Some of them are able to move and control on their own and some of those that we have move and control will actually track movement on their own.”

McGuire with the ACLU supports advances in law enforcement, but said policies have to be adjusted to ensure that such technology gets used in the right way.

McGuire also said there is little supporting evidence that the more cameras that are out there, the more they deter crime.

"A lot of these crimes are crimes of opportunity where they're not going to think there's a camera here, I ought not to do that. That is a myth that towns often use to justify these cameras and expanding them."

Foley with the City of Hartford said they try their best to train officers and staff as much as possible, to ensure proper use.

"We're not here to track people. We're only using this for when there's a major incident, wen something major happens and there's an emergency. We just don't have the time, resources or money to be watching people in that regard where the ACLU is going to be upset."

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