Thousands of surveillance cameras are showing up in cities across the country without a corresponding reduction in crime. Citizens are taking notice of this fact of the federal takeover of local police, and they are speaking out.
On January 8, for example, the Texas Civil Rights Project-Houston issued a statement on its Facebook page criticizing their city’s participation in the construction of the surveillance state.
“As a community, we need to start a serious dialogue about the level of governmental intrusion in our daily lives that government foists upon us without our consent,” declared Amin Alehashem, the group’s regional director. “Government has no need to know with whom we associate, walk on the streets, attend meetings, worship, or go to dinner.”
Local leaders in Houston, like those in so many other cities across the country, have approved the installation of new surveillance cameras. These 180 new cameras bring to nearly 1,000 the number of known surveillance cameras in the country’s fourth largest city.
The eye of the government will reportedly cover the city’s “public areas around downtown, stadiums and the theater district.”
Local CBS affiliate KHOU reports on its website that Houston police chief Charles McClelland believes the city needs the nearly 1,000 cameras to “provide necessary police coverage.”
And just where did Houston get the money to buy these new cameras? There’s no provision for the expense in the mayor’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, so the city’s not paying for these “critical” services so necessary for the “safety” of its citizens. Department of Homeland Security to the rescue!
In the article announcing the deployment of the new devices, KHOU reports, “The city has spent more than $18 million in federal money to build its camera system and has another $5 million in reserve.”
Perhaps citizens should overlook their elected leaders’ acceptance of such federal largesse, given that the 900 or so surveillance cameras already in place have had such a favorable effect on crime rates in the city.
Not so much.
Again, from KHOU: “Officials say data is not kept to determine if the cameras are driving down crime.”
If the cameras aren’t being used to reduce crime, just what are they being used for?
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