Public security camera policy gets Sept. 26 hearing
A proposed security camera policy for the city gets a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 so residents can hear and weigh in on the plan. For instance, according to the draft camera policy:
Cameras will be on 24 hours a day and recorded to DVR, but “passively monitored” with no person assigned to watch what’s going on live on a day-to-day basis. Active monitoring will take place only if Police Commission Robert C. Haas orders it in writing. The feed will be publicly accessible so people can see traffic conditions, and cameras may be activated to record an event.
The commissioner also controls who operates the cameras and watches archived footage from them.
There will be no recording of sound without a court order.
“Shrouding” technology can be used to block private areas from viewing or recording, and the cameras won’t use automatic identification, facial recognition or automatic tracking technologies.
Cambridge’s public security cameras are part of a nine-member Metro Boston Homeland Security Region Critical Infrastructure Monitoring System with Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Everett, Quincy, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop, and officials in any of those communities can be authorized by the city manager, in collaboration the commissioner, to “to view, on an ongoing or time-limited basis, real-time only images” from Cambridge.
After debate on security cameras going back to at least April 2008, city councillor Craig Kelley took ownership of the issue, running a half-dozen meetings on the topic in his Public Safety Subcommittee. Representatives of police, the public and American Civil Liberties Union attended, but in June when Kelley presented a final committee report, councillor Marjorie Decker urged further hearings.
“There are ways to use cameras to collect data that are not Big Brotherish,” Kelley has said.
The upcoming meeting will be hosted by City Manager Richard C. Rossi and Mayor Henrietta Davis, taking place at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.