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<strike>Big</strike> Gigantic Brother: NY Village Installs 44 Traffic Cameras in Town of 5,000 People


" of the most extensive municipal tracking programs anywhere."

It's supposed to make the village townsfolk feel safe. But is it just another example of big brother gone too far?

The town of Kings Point, NY has installed 44 traffic cameras that will monitor 19 town entrances and exists. But those cameras aren't just there to keep a watchful, they're actively looking for criminals. The blog Simple Justice explains (via Newsday):

The 3.3-square-mile North Shore enclave of Kings Point is launching a far-reaching surveillance network that can compare the license plate of every car going into the village against federal and state crime databases such as most-wanted lists, stolen vehicle alerts and suspected terrorist files.

When the project is completed, 44 cameras will monitor 19 entrances into the village in what may be one of the most extensive municipal tracking programs anywhere.

The number of cameras equals about one for every 120 people in the village of 5,305 people. Kings Point, a community of million-dollar homes, sits on the Great Neck peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water.

44 cameras in a town of just over 5,000? One camera for every 120 people? Might that be a little overkill?

"Mayor Michael Kalnick said the tracking program is necessary to protect residents, but privacy and civil rights groups consider it an overreaching intrusion," Newsday says.

And when you look at the crime stats, the mayor's argument is almost laughable. According to Simple Justice, Kings Point had 19 property crimes and one violent crime in 2010.

Given the facts, even the New York Civil Liberties Union (founded as a branch of the ACLU) is against the cameras.

"When we talk about installing an intense surveillance system like these, there needs to be intense public debate," Samantha Fredrickson, director of the gorup's Nassau County chapter, told Newday. "It's just another example of the government watching and keeping track of what we do in our personal time. It just doesn't seem necessary."

"Fortunately, [town mayor Michael] Kalnick has yet to consider enacting a law requiring every non-resident to enter the village to submit to a cavity search," Simply Justice Writes. "After all, you don't want to wait for crime to happen, do you?"

Gawker notices puts it a different way: "You know what else has cameras constantly on the look-out for criminals? The entrance of a prison!"

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