Top New York Cop Dismisses Big Brother Concerns Over Cameras

As prominent New Yorkers call for more cameras around Times Square following the failed bomb attempt, New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly addressed big brother privacy concerns people may have about additional security cameras.

“We’re talking about cameras that are in public areas,” Kelly told HUMAN EVENTS. “The Supreme Court held long ago that there’s no expectation of privacy in a public area.”

Kelly, who has called for more security cameras in the city, said last week that the jury is still out on how much cameras helped in catching Faisal Shahzad, suspected of trying to set off a bomb in Times Square.

“It gave us some information. I can’t say specifically that helped in the case,” said Kelly, adding they are still examining cameras in the area.

“We may in fact be able to still get pictures of the specific event,” Kelly said. “Detectives are looking at a lot of film.”

Following the bombing attempt, one of the first voices calling for more cameras in New York City was former Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked about continuing work on the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, which he described as a “network of cameras and other surveillance equipment.”

The current number of cameras in the Times Square area is 82, according to the Associated Press.

Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush, supported the call for more cameras.

“I agree that additional cameras would be useful,” Townsend said of New York, but saw implications for other cities like Washington, D.C.

Kelly said it could take awhile to implement his call for more cameras, which he said requires federal funding. Townsend said that it’s not simply more cameras that are needed, but cameras with time and date stamps and the technology to quickly review the footage. 

Townsend said being honest with the public is the key to whether additional cameras would raise privacy concerns.

“Wherever privacy and civil liberty are [a] concern, you want to have a public debate on it,” Townsend said.