The city of Houston is spending $14 million to install 250-300 security cameras at downtown intersections as part of an initiative sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security to prevent and fight crime and terrorism.
Houston police plan to use the cameras to monitor potential crime scenes from several viewpoints in order to have a better idea of what is happening before officers arrive, Dennis Storemski, the city’s director of the Office of Public Safety, told the Houston Chronicle.
“The intent is to protect critical infrastructure and prevent terrorism,” Storemski told the Chronicle. “Experience has shown that when people plan terroristic acts, they plan and they do dry runs, so what we would be looking for is suspicious activity around certain locations. And for any crimes, you can go back and look at the video and identify the perpetrators.”
Some Houston residents complained of privacy concerns and the cost of the program, according to the Chronicle. But Storemski told the newspaper that privacy shouldn’t be a concern because all cameras are in public places where people should be aware that their actions are not private.
Cameras in public places have been used by law enforcement to help identify suspects in terrorist incidents, including the 2005 London subway bombings and the attempted bombing of Times Square earlier this year.