Increase in Security Cameras Has New Haven Searching for Policy to Ensure Privacy

New Haven has roughly 4,000 security cameras at its disposal between those in neighborhoods and in schools.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — New Haven began installing security cameras in 2000, mostly as a method of watching traffic patterns. Since then, the city’s video surveillance capabilities have greatly improved.

New Haven now has over 200 cameras installed in neighborhoods and nearly 4,000 cameras in schools, according to the New Haven Register.

“The technology for these cameras nowadays is just incredible,” said Maggie Targrove, deputy director of administration at the New Haven Office of Emergency Management. “It’s really come a long way since we started.”

When they started back in 2000, there were fewer cameras and therefore not as many concerns over public privacy. Now with the growing scope of surveillance, Targrove has to go before the Board of Alders to discuss camera policy to ensure the cameras are used properly and not abused.

The draft of the policy states the recordings will be deleted within 15 days unless it is being used for an investigation, and police will have access to the cameras in real time. In addition, Targrove will propose a fee for public requests for surveillance footage.

“It’s important that we have policy on this because we want people to know that we are using these cameras for their safety and not to invade their privacy,” Targrove said.

Watch: Thief Accidentally Turns Security Camera on During Robbery

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut is watching the developments closely.

“The danger in having these large systems, it makes it very easy to invade an innocent person’s privacy,” said David McGuire, interim executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “It’s absolutely essential that the city really explain the need for this technology. You have to weigh the public safety benefits to public privacy.”

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