City to Use Cameras in Bid to Fight Crime

City to use cameras in bid to fight crime Chinatown, other sites to get device

By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff

By January, Boston will install about 40 sophisticated surveillance cameras in Chinatown, along Boston Harbor, and in high-crime areas, probably including Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday he believes the digital cameras can be an effective tool against crime. "Any technology or any operation that we can use that will help us combat violence in the streets of our city, we're going to look at very seriously," he said in an interview.

Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole said yesterday that the city eventually plans to link its cameras with others already in transportation hubs, housing developments, and private businesses to help stem a surge in crime.

"We hope to be creative," she said in an interview. "If the drug unit wants to monitor cameras in the areas where there's been drug activity, they can do that."

The cameras to be installed in coming weeks were purchased for and used during the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, but have been shelved since. Police originally said the cameras would go up in Chinatown in February.

The delay, officials said, involved getting permission from businesses and homes to mount the cameras, as well as the technical difficulties of wiring the cameras.

Civil libertarians, however, said Boston should keep the cameras on the shelf.

Sarah Wunsch, a staff lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said yesterday that cameras have not been effective in combating crime in Britain, where they have been commonplace since the

1990s. She also said the public should be concerned about the cameras' power to give the government more information on individual habits.

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Monty Solomon
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