ACLU Study: St. Louis City surveillance cameras are an invasion of privacy

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The ACLU wants to get rid of surveillance cameras in the City of St. Louis. They're calling them an invasion of privacy. City leaders say they are crime fighters and they plan to add more.

The ACLU released findings of a study Thursday it says shows glaring problems with surveillance cameras in St. Louis. The group says there are city cameras, business improvement cameras and private cameras all over the city. They've become a hodgepodge with no policies in place protecting privacy rights.

"Because there's  so many different systems with a variety of policies or in some cases no policies at all, we are completely outside constitutional   constraints." said Jeffrey Mittman of the ACLU of Missouri.

The city not only uses the cameras in high crime neighborhoods,  but also at major events in the city, like Mardis Gras or Fair St. Louis.

The ACLU says the cameras do very little to fight crime. City leaders says they  absolutely do reduce crime but  add the key component is, they have to be monitored.

"What we're looking at is what we call a smart center in the police department where a lot of these cameras would be feed through fiber optics and high speed connections and the police department would then use both people and sophisticated software to monitor it." said Mayor Slay's Chief Of Staff Jeff Rainford.

The ACLU says a real time  intelligence center would cost millions of dollars and the money would be better spent elsewhere.

ACLU report author John Chasnoff says, "On things like cops on the beat, or better street lighting, which have shown to more effective in fighting crime."

In 2005 CCTV images helped London police capture a number of terrorists  following a series of subway and bus bombings that killed dozens. Without the surveillance photos the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings likely would never have been identified and caught. The city believes improving surveillance technology will only make St. Louis safer.

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