In Boston, All Eyes on Convention; Law Enforcement Will Be Using Hundreds of Cameras

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

In Boston, All Eyes on Convention; Law Enforcement Will Be Using Hundreds of Cameras


Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Hundreds of federal and local surveillance cameras will be used to watch for terrorist and criminal activity at the Democratic National Convention next week in Boston.

The Coast Guard will use night-vision cameras and infrared imaging to monitor Boston Harbor and the Charles River, and some police on the street will carry hand-held devices to view live video feeds.

Authorities also will be able to view and control about 75 state-of-the-art video cameras installed at six federal buildings near the convention center.

Hundreds of cameras used by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, port authority, highway department and the Big Dig, a massive underground road construction project, will be available to law-enforcement officials by request.

Officials in the Homeland Security Operations Center will be monitoring security cameras in the Tip O'Neil and John F. Kennedy federal buildings, as well as the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, said Ronald Libby, New England regional director for the Federal Protective Service.

"The cameras are there for regular law enforcement capacity. If they allow us to prevent a terrorist attack, great; if we stop a street crime, great," Mr. Libby said.

Tapes from the cameras will be retained only in the event of a crime.

He said the Oklahoma City bombing case might have been solved quickly had the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building been monitored with video cameras. "The wireless technology sends images over the Internet and the Oklahoma bombing video image could have been retrieved and every law-enforcement officer would be looking for the suspect who walked away from the truck," Mr. Libby said.

Privacy advocates are concerned about a lack of oversight.

"It will probably be the largest use of surveillance cameras by police agencies in American history," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program. …

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