Washington, D.C., Police to Build Nation’s Largest Surveillance Network

NEW YORK—Shopping areas, streets, monuments and other public places in Washington, D.C., will soon be monitored by surveillance cameras, as the city’s police department is building what will be the nation’s largest surveillance network. The Wall Street Journal reports that the system would eventually include hundreds of cameras, linking existing devices in Metro mass-transit stations, public schools and traffic intersections to new digital cameras mounted to watch neighborhoods and shopping districts.

According to the article, Stephen Gaffigan, head of the police department’s project, says city officials were intrigued by the current model surveillance system in England after studying its use. That British system has more than 2 million cameras throughout the country. “In the context of Sept. 11, we have no choice but to accept greater use of this technology,” Gaffigan says.

The cameras installed by the police have been programmed to scan public areas automatically. Officers can also take over manual control if they want to examine something more closely. Eventually, police will be able to view images on computers already installed in most of the city’s 1,000 squad cars.

At press time, police had activated a $7 million command center that was first used on Sept. 11 in response to a terror alert issued by the Justice Department. It will remain in use until federal officials end the alert, according to the newspaper.

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