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Worcester surveillance cameras strike controversy

Worcester, Massachusetts, is commonly considered a city with a high crime rate. In fact, a paper by the FBI said there were more than 1,700 violent crimes and more than 6,000 property crimes reported to authorities in 2010. For this reason, authorities are doing all in their power to cut back on instances that could threaten the safety or comfort of residents.

For some time, Worcester has been considering a policy that would allow local authorities to deploy surveillance cameras throughout the city to help law enforcement officials eliminate crime, according to a report by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The initiative has been met with mixed feelings by residents, as many people consider the monitoring of public areas to be a breach of privacy, the news source said.

"We would certainly be concerned about the expansion of surveillance cameras in the city of Worcester, or anywhere for that matter," said Chris Robarge, a Worcester resident and Central Massachusetts field coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Telegram & Gazette.

The project would also involve installing a central monitoring hub called the Real Time Crime Center at the local law enforcement's headquarters in Lincoln Square, the news source said. One of the concerns associated with the program is that a number of undisclosed "potential partners" indicates local agencies may be able to gain access to surveillance cameras from other agencies or private businesses.

The other side of the argument
Other pundits believe the cameras will enable local authorities to make areas safer, allowing people to feel more comfortable in their own city, the news source said.

This theory was echoed in another report when the Pittsburg Police Department in California implemented a number of new surveillance cameras throughout the city. The initiative was meant to allow local law enforcement to strengthen security in public areas, according to a report by the Contra Costa Times.

"I think the most powerful tool for law enforcement is being able to be proactive," Pittsburg patrol officer Mike Keefe said, according to the Contra Costa Times. "If you are reactive, you're not preventing crime. What [surveillance] cameras allow you to do is be proactive."

As surveillance technologies mature and evolve, the solutions will likely be used on a broader scale throughout the United States. As a result, the argument whether the tools truly do enhance safety or breach privacy will continue.

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