City cameras raise questions about liberties

    One of the most extensive city camera surveillance systems in the nation is right up the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Philadelphia. The system could be a national model, but there are outstanding questions about civil liberties.

    One of the most extensive city camera surveillance systems in the nation is right up the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Philadelphia. The system could be a national model, but there are outstanding questions about civil liberties.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090707tmcamera.mp3]

    Lancaster City will have 160 cameras installed before the end of the summer. They are monitored by the non-profit Community Safety Coalition. Executive Director Joe Morales says the group is trying to help police fight crime while preserving citizens’ rights.

    Morales: We take every precaution such as blacking out images that would allow us to see in a person’s window. For example, if there is a camera adjacient to a private property we go to the trouble of masking those windows digitally so when we turn the camera that we we can’t see into that house.

    But the system isn’t without critics. Mary Catherine Roper is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania. She’s concerned about the private nature of the surveillance operation because it doesn’t fall under the same scrutiny guidelines as a police organization.

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