Monday, February 22, 2010

Councillors speak out about surveillance

Two city councillors - At-large Councillors Barry Connell and Tom Jones - stood up during the "Good of the Order" portion of tonight's Council meeting and spoke passionately about the installation of surveillance cameras in downtown Newburyport.

Actually, Jones was a little more general. He spoke about the need for the City Council to approve expenditures from grants because it doesn't now. That's how we end up with things that make us go, "Huh?"

Connell said he had a long discussion with City Marshal Tom Howard about the cameras, which are not yet operational, and while the Marshal presented a strong argument for management (Of what? Crime?), Connell said there was a difference in opinion about necessity.

The reason my notes are so garbled is because he was so eloquent that I was sort of mesmerized.

The upshot is, he asked the Marshal to hold off on finalizing the installation (the software) until there can be further discussion on the need for the cameras "so we can preserve the sliver of personal freedom we still have in public places."


Anonymous said...

oh liberty, how i will miss thee...

macsurf said...

I know, from more than a half dozen emails I've received from friends in town, that there is a groundswell of support for the issue of both the cameras, and the oversight by the council of grant monies, to be opened up to a public discussion.

The people who've communicated with me about this in the context of emails about more mundane things, are a little freaked out by the notion of being videotaped as they stroll down Inn Street, or sit in their lounge chairs in front of the Firehouse taking in an open air concert.

Is this the same city marshal, btw, who brought in drug sniffing dogs from outside the Nbpt police dept a few years back and had officers roam through the crowd at one of those concerts randomly, and with no probable cause, sniffing people's picnic baskets, diaper, bags, etc etc.

If it is, I think the issue of video cameras needs very much to be opened up to public discussion - POST HASTE!!

Newburyport's Voice said...

It is nice to see both liberals and conservatives agree on this matter.

Acceptance of grants should have to be ok'd by the city council.

They are the peoples representives and the citizens voice.

Ari Herzog said...

FYI, both Councilor Cronin and I have since written about this issue on our respective blogs. Gillian has the links off to the right...