Earlier this week, some city council members expressed concern about the civil-liberties implications of a gunshot-locator system proposed by Mayor Mike McGinn, which would record sound and video 24 hours a day in as many as 52 locations around the city. Sally Bagshaw, for example, pointed out that neighborhood residents "came unglued" when former mayor Greg Nickels installed a handful of silent video cameras in a few city parks—a minuscule deployment, in comparison to McGinn's proposal.
We wondered what the ACLU thought of the city's anti-crime surveillance plan. Here's what local ACLU spokesman Doug Honig had to say:
Gunshot locators can be useful devices for dealing with violent crime, and the ACLU has no objection to their being used to determine where gunshots come from. But we do want to make sure that the technology is not used for general video surveillance or recording conversations. The City should have an ordinance that specifies how they are to be used, as was done with park cameras.
Currently, the mayor's budget does not include any specific criteria for implementing the gunshot locator system, which would cost $750,000 in 2013, and just over $200,000 a year thereafter.