NEW ORLEANS- There's new concern over the city's crime safety camera system, a high-tech tool both the Mayor and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison have touted since it's implementation last week.
"The real-time center has already led to arrest and nearly instant responses to crimes in progress," Chief Michael Harrison said.
Police say the cameras have the capability of detecting the colors of people's clothing. City leaders say these cameras can help reduce crime, even address threats of terrorism.
"This is the right step in the right direction and at the right time," Mayor-Elect LaToya Cantrell said Tuesday.
But in an eight-page report, the Office of Independent Police Monitor claims there are several risks with the new system. On page two, the police watchdog group says the system has potential for abuse, with the possibility of racial profiling, invasion of privacy and improper focus on a person's body.
When it comes to racial profiling, the report cited a study conducted in England, which found in more than 24 days of camera monitoring, African American people were 1.5 and 2.5 times more likely to be watched. The study also found African American people were disproportionately placed under surveillance for "No Obvious Reason."
The police monitor's report says given the demographics of the 20 neighborhoods selected for special monitoring as part of the city's new safety plan, there is risk of further criminalization of minorities in New Orleans.
"Racial profiling that uses technology is still racial profiling," Dr. Peter Scharf, Criminologist at LSU School of Public Health, said.
Schard says the concerns within the report are valid.
The letter brings into question the effectiveness of the camera and if they're a waste of taxpayers dollars.
The full report can be read here.
Wednesday the city released a statement regarding the reporting saying:
"The City Attorney has been involved in development of the camera monitoring program, and the NOPD will ensure constitutional policing in its administration of the program. The administration will continue to increase the tools at the disposal of our police and homeland security officials to prevent and respond to violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. In the week since activation, the real-time crime center has already yielded results—leading to quicker arrests, more efficient investigations and a safer city."
- Tyronne Walker, Communications Director