The Seattle City Council is bringing the discussion on the future of surveillance cameras in Cal Anderson Park to the people of Capitol Hill. Seattle Police — including East Precinct Commander Capt. Jim Dermody — want the camera program continued despite privacy and implementation concerns. Also looming, as usual with civic decisions, needed city budget cuts. The opportunity for the public to speak about the program starts at 5 PM at Miller Community Center at 19th Ave and Thomas.
Parks committee head Sally Bagshaw is leading an effort to decide what should be done with the surveillance technology currently operating — but un-utilized — in Capitol Hill’s central park.
CHS broke the news about the status of the cams and delved into the issues surrounding the technology here. A City Auditor’s report concluded that the cameras had not been effective at deterring criminal activity and the only documented time SPD utilized any footage was during the investigation of reports of a roving gang attacking people in the park in August 2009.
Dermody has voiced his support for the program and asked that it be continued. According to the SPD, while the cameras continue to operate, the department is not currently utilizing the technology pending the decision by the Council. SPD says there have only been five requests for live monitoring since the cameras were installed in 2008 and not all of those could be filled.
An option CHS would like to hear tonight: Opening up the technology on the Internet so that the cams can be utilized by anybody on the Web. We’ve heard safety concerns about this — “What if a criminal could see somebody walking through the park alone?” — but don’t think they stand up.
Councilmember Bagshaw to host public discussion on Cal Anderson Park surveillance cameras
SEATTLE – On Monday, May 3, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will take public comment regarding the Cal Anderson Park surveillance camera system pilot project immediately following a special meeting of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee.
What: Parks and Seattle Center Committee Meeting, followed by public comment on Cal Anderson Park surveillance camera program
When: Monday, May 3, 2010
5:00 p.m. Sign-in
5:30 p.m. Committee meeting
6:30 p.m. Public comment
Where: Miller Community Center, 330 19th Avenue East, Seattle
In June 2008, the City Council passed Ordinance 122705, which authorized a pilot program to place a total of 12 surveillance cameras in four Seattle parks: Cal Anderson, Hing Hay, Occidental Square, and Victor Steinbrueck. Due to City budget constraints, only three of the cameras were ever installed, all in Cal Anderson Park. The pilot phase of the surveillance camera program concluded in late January 2010, and the City Council now seeks input from the community to inform their decision on the future of the camera program.
The City Auditor’s Office conducted an evaluation of the pilot program in October 2009.
Councilmember Bagshaw is committed to holding one committee meeting per quarter outside of City Hall in the spirit of open government and with a focus on civic participation. Regular committee business will be conducted in the first hour of this special meeting before opening the floor to public comments regarding the surveillance cameras.
Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21 and Webcast live on the City Council’s website at http://www.seattle.gov/council/. Copies of legislation, archives of previous meetings, and news releases are available on http://www.seattle.gov/council/. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook at Seattle City Council.