Woodinville approves rules for surveillance cameras

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WOODINVILLE — The city of Woodinville is trying to ease concerns about the use of surveillance cameras in public places. The City Council agreed to purchase the cameras this spring. Tuesday night, they approved a set of guidelines on how those cameras can be used.

camerasWoodinville seems like a fairly safe town. But the police chief admits there are problems.

“The city of Woodinville has a higher crime rate than you would think. Most of our issues are theft-related,” Police Chief Sydney Jackson said.

The Police dDepartment only has 11 officers, so the chief said they can only do so much. That’s why earlier this year, she proposed installing surveillance cameras on public streets and city-owned property.

“I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t take advantage of current technology available to us as law enforcement investigators,” she said.

Some residents say cameras would help with safety issues.

“The idea that surveillance cameras would make women especially feel safe is something I really appreciate,” Matt Loschen said.

But the ACLU put out an action alert this spring, saying cameras “do not prevent crime and violate the privacy of people.”

Janet Putnam is concerned about that.

“I generally trust the government, but things can happen,” Putnam said. “There can be abuses.”

The chief laid out a set of guidelines so residents will understand how the cameras will be used. They won’t be monitored around the clock.  Officers will only be able to access the video after a crime is committed. There will also be signs posted wherever the cameras are located.

“I think it’s important to set the community at ease. That we will follow all local, state, federal laws regarding people’s privacy and ensure that we can be trusted with the information,” she said.

That makes Colin Berg feel better.

“I don’t think with cameras in parks and places like that, it’s a violation of privacy. If they started using drones in neighborhoods, that would be a much different scale. But public places are public places,” he said.

Now that the city has passed guidelines about how the cameras will be used, they can start the process of looking for a vendor. Then they can figure out how many cameras can be purchased, where they will go, and how long it will take for them to be up and running.

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