CHICAGO — The American Civil Liberties Union issued a report today calling on Chicago city leaders to stop adding to the network of video surveillance cameras accessible to the police department.
Chicago Police directly control 1,260 cameras, and also have access to more than 4,500 cameras in and around Chicago public schools, 1,800 on CTA buses and in train stations, and at least 1,000 at O’Hare Airport, as well as more cameras at McCormick Place, Navy Pier, and private video systems in the Willis Tower, the John Hancock building and elsewhere, reports WGNTV.
“Given Chicago’s history of unlawful political surveillance, including the notorious “Red Squad,” it is critical that appropriate controls be put in place to rein in these powerful and pervasive surveillance cameras now available to law enforcement throughout the city,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois in releasing the report. “Unlike other cities, Chicago has not adopted necessary safeguards. We believe that a new mayor or City Council should order a moratorium on deploying new cameras, evaluate whether to remove some of the current cameras, and adopt appropriate regulations to protect against unwarranted violations of privacy.”
View an ACLU’s video statement about the report:
Current Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who leaves office in the spring, rejected the report’s conclusion, defending the cameras as effective enforcement tools.
“We’re not spying on anybody. This is the public way,” the Chicago Tribune quotes Daley as saying. “We’re not spying on anyone or identifying anyone, or racially profiling anyone. We’re not.”