Despite cameras being instrumental in solving crimes, privacy concerns remain


Posted on April 19, 2013 at 10:59 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 22 at 1:57 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

Cameras in public areas in Boston, helped the FBI nail down images of the terrorism suspects.
But where is line when it comes to cameras watching our moves in public places?

It was the ultimate tool for the Feds, immediate action shots of the brothers and their backpacks on the scene of the Boston bombings. In a local control room, an extra set of eyes monitors all the electronic eyes around the city. The non-profit ProjectNOLA helps the NOPD when there is a crime in progress.

When asked what difference the cameras made in solving local crimes, Bryan Lagarde, director of ProjectNola answered, "Wow, huge  difference. We've been involved in everything from homicides, shootings, stabbings, home invasions, robbery, thefts."

During a crime and after, video can show a suspect is lying during an interrogation, a vehicle can be identified, even the exact spot on a pole for the crime lab to lift a finger print.  But some want  balance when it comes to big brother watching.

"Obviously the Boston situation shows the value that  surveillance video, or just general video, can have in solving crimes. But that said, it's also important to make sure that we don't end up with a government database that can be kept forever, so that the government will forever be able to know and track who was where and when," said Majorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana.


ProjectNOLA agrees and gets rid of video that comes from cameras on homes and businesses in 10 days.

"I would personally see that as an invasion of privacy," said Lagarde about the government keeping video long term. "Keeping it for short periods of time realistically is the world we live in."

The ACLU is concerned that some communities have no policy on video disposal, risking government intrusion, and a permanent tracking record of your moves.

"You certainly don't want the government to be able to spy on people forever when there's no need for that. If a particular crime investigation is over, then they don't need the tape any more," said Esman.

ProjectNOLA experts say if you're buying your own cameras, always ask to see the quality of the video on "playback," not on the "live" pictures. The recorded video quality is not as sharp as the live pictures.