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Keeping an Eye on Downtown

If you're in downtown, chances are you're being watched by the Dallas Police Department, which today announced that in January, it installed 40 Sony security video cameras, 35 wireless radio transmitters and seven electronic storage devices on streetlight poles and building rooftops. Actually, DPD didn't announce it: The companies responsible for the security equipment issued their own separate press releases, in case we happened to miss the announcement. The surveillance system is portable, and it was paid for a grant from the Meadows Foundation -- which, according to its Web site, cost the foundation some $840,000. (The grant was for, specifically: "To purchase video surveillance cameras for use in the Central Business District in order to reduce crime in the area and provide a greater sense of security for Dallas citizens.")

According to all the releases, the system willcover "approximately 30 percent of the downtown area and will be used as a crime deterrent with live, 24-hour monitoring in City Hall and at police headquarters. The video streams will also be recorded to assist with criminal investigations. The overt system is designed with strict adherence to applicable laws and will be used only in public areas with visible camera placement and street-level signage."

Which seems to defeat the purpose. --Robert Wilonsky

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