Smile! You Could be on Camera Everywhere in Charleston

By: Laurabree Austin Email
By: Laurabree Austin Email

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones wants to double the city user fee (the dollar a week fee charged to everyone who works inside city limits) and spend some of the money for surveillance cameras.

Jones believes putting cameras throughout Charleston will make the city safer.

"If criminals know they could be picked up on camera they might pick another city to prey on," Mayor Danny Jones said.

The ACLU believes those extra eyes might be too much.

"People should be free to move in public spaces without the fear of being spied upon," Andrew Schneider of the ACLU said.

Schneider says government leaders in other cities have abused the technology. He also worries minority areas of Charleston would be targeted more than others. He says some things many of us do should be kept private.

"We can think of numerous activities that take place in public spaces that are considered private. Think about going to a therapists, think about a private conversation with a friend, going for a drink at gay bar, engaging in a public protest," Schneider said.

The city already has a camera at the Roosevelt Center and it doesn't seem to bother the people who walk by every day.

"Well this is a public place and I don't know if you have nothing to hide what's the issue," Kevin Berry said.

The two sides agree police protection is the best thing but the mayor says officers just can't be everywhere. Members of the ACLU say if the cameras do go up, they would like signs posted telling people they're on camera with certified camera operators in charge of the cameras.

Mayor Jones says council is working on an ordinance. It will include either a thirty or sixty day time frame when the tapes will be erased.

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