NEW YORK - Pressure is building for greater use of video cameras to keep watch over the nation's cities — particularly in transportation systems and other spots vulnerable to terrorism — after the bombings in London.
The calls have come over the last few weeks as British investigators released surveillance footage of the bombers in the deadly July 7 attacks and then put out frames of suspects in Thursday's failed attacks.
"I do not think that cameras are the big mortal threat to civil liberties that people are painting them to be," Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony A. Williams said Friday.
He's not alone. While privacy advocates question their effectiveness, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for New York City subway officials to install more cameras, even though officials said some 5,000 cameras are already in use across all modes of city travel. In Stamford, Conn., Mayor Dan Malloy said it's time to revisit a 1999 ordinance that limited cameras to watching traffic.
In many other spots around the country, cameras already are in place.
"In general, I think we're getting used to cameras. Hey, that's just the way the world is," said Roy Bordes, who runs an Orlando, Fla.-based security design consultant firm.
Consider these recent developments:
• Chicago now has at least 2,000 surveillance cameras across its neighborhoods, after leaders last year launched an ambitious project at a cost of roughly $5 million. Law enforcement says they've helped drive crime rates to the lowest they've seen in 40 years.
• In Philadelphia, where the city has increasingly relied on video surveillance, cameras caught an early morning murder which ultimately led to the capture of a suspect. Police say the accused is now a suspect in an unsolved murder from 1998.
• Homeland Security officials last week announced they would install hundreds of surveillance cameras and sensors on a rail line near the Capitol at a cost of $9.8 million, months after an effort by local officials to ban hazardous shipments on the line.
This should raise some blood pressures!