Will Boston investigation boost support for Seattle’s waterfront cameras?

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SEATTLE — Boston has more than a hundred surveillance cameras, something investigators now hope will help solve bombings at the Boston Marathon.

With so much talk of surveillance cameras and how they are helping in the investigation, it’s reigniting the debate in Seattle of the 30 surveillance cameras installed along the waterfront but not yet turned on.

“I live here in Alki. If something was to happen, you want as much information as possible,” said West Seattle resident Megan Gilshire.

Cameras could go live on Alki beach, the waterfront and Elliott Bay but not before the public gets to weigh in.

“I don’t like the feeling of walking down the street and constantly being watched,” said Seattle resident Linda Newton.

But when does safety trump privacy?

“If there is a shooting in the city, the first thing we do is canvass private businesses for their footage; that is the first thing we do,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.

McGinn isn’t taking a side yet but says it’s important the discussion continue.

“You cannot interfere with a business or a homeowner that have a (surveillance) camera, but we don’t have to use taxpayer dollars” for public surveillance cameras, said Newton.

Newton said she will never change her mind on the topic. She was a part of a group called No Drones Northwest that argued against the use of aerial police drones in Seattle. They marched through downtown Seattle Wednesday night, hoping to raise money for the cause and sway opinion.

Most of the protesters were vigilant against all cameras and all drones being used by any law enforcement.

“That takes a lot of trust in our police and I don’t have that trust,” said Dorlie Rainey.

Many protesters said Boston’s tragedy shouldn’t be used as a platform for more surveillance cameras. For others, it’s not so black and white; some say the extra eyes could help police solve crimes.

“I would want there to be a citizen overview panel to look at that and see how the footage would be used,” said Seattle resident Hap Bockelie.

If the waterfront cameras get the green light, the Seattle City Council will regulate, restrict and monitor the use. Public hearings will continue but no word yet on when a final decision will be made.

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  • kafeterito

    only listen to people who live near where the cameras are, if they live renton should not comment about the cameras that are in seattle

    • Mr. Smarty

      That seems short-sighted to me. What if a citizen is concerned about setting a precedence that could very well impact their community next time? IMO, this discussion is wider than a few specific cameras on the Seattle waterfront. I would say that this is a similar scope as with those blasted drones the Seattle police are so eager to use. Proliferation is going to be very difficult to check once cameras (I mean law enforcement cameras, not private CCTV) are installed in the first few areas. How do we manage / control where they go?

  • RJL

    This appears to be a money grab as much as anything,in the long run it should be up to the people as to when and if these cameras are used. The truth is that we the people are to blame for putting the politicians in office that no longer care about what the people think, but only pander to those with money .So say what you want we will really have little or nothing to say about the outcome.