In the months to come, Miami police plan to install technology that will be able to zoom in, identify, follow, and watch residents in Overtown, Little Haiti and Liberty City. This plan will allow them to watch up to 200 closed-circuit television screens at once. A new, extremely high-tech command center was built to permit 25 (high definition, 55-inch) television screens. These screens will play feed from up to 400 cameras that will be placed all around these cities. While this plan is at its launch, the command center is set up to have the capabilities of taking feed from up to 2,500 cameras at a time.
It’s no surprise that a plan like this has already met lots of criticism, specifically by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. As technology advances and is used for “safety” purposes, it has many questioning whether the installations are for the betterment of the cities, or if their existence is simply an invasion of the community’s privacy.
“It will help us solve crimes; it will help us deter crimes,” states Miami police Chief Manuel Oroda. Other large cities like Tampa and New York have similar programs in place. In fact, mounted cameras in New York were credited in helping to identify the Boston Marathon bombers. Oroda stands behind the plan, and believes that the cameras will aid police to track neighborhoods to stop crime before they happen, or at least collect strong evidence needed to solve complicated crimes.
The overall cost of the technology will be less than $700,000. This budget includes the GPS ShotSpotter system, and about half of the cost will come from federal funds meant to fight terrorism. When complete, the center will be linked to 144 red light cameras, 10 cameras will be installed on top of rooftops next to ShotSpotter sensors, and a dozen more cameras that were installed many years prior to the plan.
Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, head of the DDA, and who oversees the economic development in Miami’s downtown is on board with the project, but some of the members of the community are less than enthused. Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida is publically against efforts, stating that “The claim that out in public you have a reduced expectation of privacy is an abused standard by police. “ Simon goes on to explain, “A whole range of protocols need to be put in place. It’s not being used because of a hope for enhancement of safety, but primarily because Homeland Security is throwing money around.”
Projects like these will always meet criticism. The technology may be used to benefit of the population, or the technology could easily be abused. ACLU’s Simon explains it perfectly – the system allows an opportunity for cops to abuse their power, whether it’s zooming in on pretty women or something much worse.