Lansing Police Cameras Stir Up Controversy

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

Lansing Police surveillance cameras have been placed into 14 neighborhoods around Lansing. They help officers monitor criminal activity, but one neighbor wants them gone.

"Five people got shot right in front of the camera, it didn't stop that," said Walter Brown, president of the Knollwood and Willow Neighborhood Association.

Brown is referring to the camera at the corner of Willow and Knollwood, which is across the street from the scene of a deadly shooting on New Years Day.

Brown took his concerns to the Lansing City Council on Thursday. He says the cameras are not only ineffective in deterring crime, but also violate the privacy of citizens.

"These cameras can see right into people's homes, they can see in people's windows," Brown said.

However, Mayor Virg Bernero said that claim is simply untrue.

"We're not out to look into Walter Brown's home or into his backyard or anyone else's. In fact, those cameras are specifically set up to block the view from going into somebody's backyard, to their home," Mayor Bernero said.

According to the mayor, the cameras are cost-effective tools that help police fight crime. The Lansing Police Department reports that between 2008 and 2011, crime rate dropped in all but one of the neighborhoods that had a police camera.

"We know Walter Brown doesn't like the cameras. Walter Brown is one man and we believe those cameras are making that neighborhood safe," Mayor Bernero said.

Brown is not backing off from the fight. He's working with the ACLU and wants cameras replaced with people.

"We want the police officers to come out into the community," Brown said.

The mayor agrees having more officers on the street is always better, but says his hands are tied by budget contraints and cameras supplementing police work is the happy medium.

The ACLU said they're still working to get the cameras removed but said they don't capture video of people's homes.


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