Several South Carolina cities have surveillance cameras implemented on their streets to help tackle crime more efficiently. The newest city to add these wireless networks of video cameras is the City of Charleston. For more than two years, Police Chief Greg Mullen has been a leading activist in trying to get these cameras to the streets to help track crime more accurately. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has granted the police department more than $316,000 for the system.
“Cameras will be recorded 24-7. The standard storage time will be 14 days and if nothing is utilized in terms of crime or any kind of court order or anything along those lines, then it will be automatically recorded over,” says Mullen.
State Representative Wendell Gilliard, who was once a Charleston city councilman, proposed to have cameras in neighborhoods a few years ago, and is pleased with the effort.
“Regardless of what community (black, white, Latino), if the crime justified that it needed cameras then I was all for it. If it was going to save a life, prevent crime, or help to solve crime, then I’m all for using high-technology as a tool,” says Gilliard.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, may not be in direct opposition with the cameras, but it does have concerns. ACLU says the system may invade privacy, involve racial profiling, and other abuses. ACLU Executive Director Victoria Middleton told The Post and Courier “if there are invasions of privacy, it can undermine police efforts to build community trust.”
Gilliard responds to recent attacks he says the ACLU made against him.
“I’ve finally proven that I’m not crazy because the ACLU had letters sent to me, calling me a wacko, crazy, where about are rights? Well, citizens have rights too. We should never, ever be in a position where we are protecting the thugs, I’m totally against that and always will be,” says Gilliard.
Gilliard says the system has proven to be successful in other cities.
“We wanted to decrease crime in high-crime areas. Nevertheless, modern day technology should always be used as a crime-preventative measure in any community. What I do care about is the safety, the livelihoods of our citizens,” says Gilliard.