POLICE CAMERAS TO FLOOD MANHATTAN TO PREVENT FUTURE ATTACKS......
- 2010/05/10 02:53:37
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By Sebastian Smith
– May 8,2010
NEW YORK — New York officials say they could stop attacks like the
attempted Times Square car bomb by expanding a controversial
surveillance system so sensitive that it will pick up even suspicious
New York is already a heavily policed city, with 35,000
officers and a counter terrorism bureau -- the first of its kind in the
country -- partnering the FBI.
But Saturday's failed terrorist
bomb in the Times Square tourist hot spot has provided the authorities
with a new argument for expanding a sometimes controversial security
blanket of cameras, sensors and analytical software.
"will greatly enhance our ability and the ability of the police to
detect suspicious activity in real time, and disrupt possible attacks,"
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.
The high-tech system, modeled
on the "ring of steel" in London's financial district, is already in
service in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street and the World Trade Center
reconstruction site are located.
Headquartered at 55 Broadway,
the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative goes far beyond the traditional
hodgepodge of police cameras, such as the 82 devices installed around
Instead, an integrated system maintains an
unblinking eye, not just watching, but constantly collecting license
plate numbers and video of pedestrians and drivers, as well as detecting
explosives and other weapons.
An important component of the
program is coordination between the police network and private
businesses' cameras, something that has not been established in Times
Square, causing detectives significant extra work.
separate, but similar program called Operation Sentinel plans to log
every vehicle entering Manhattan island by scanning their license plates
and checking for radiation.
Last October, Bloomberg announced
plans to expand the lower Manhattan system into Midtown, including the
Times Square area.
On Sunday, New York police chief Raymond Kelly
reiterated the plan and used the occasion to press for more federal
funding from Washington.
Kelly also gave details about the system,
explaining how the aim is for "analytic software" allowing experts to
make sense of raw information in real time.
For example, alarms
would trigger when cameras noticed an unattended bag or a car circling a
block too many times to be considered normal, Kelly said.
is a whole new area for us," he told Fox News. "We're very enthusiastic
Bloomberg said the city has budgeted "more than 110
million dollars to expanding the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and
incorporating it with the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative."
large-scale, yet simultaneously detailed intelligence gathering clearly
pays in some terrorism investigations.
Officials point out that
acquiring the ingredients for a bomb or weapons exposes plotters to
precisely the kind of surveillance New York is promoting.
noted on Fox News that Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi found it "very
difficult to get explosives" for his plan to bomb the New York subway
system. A major piece of evidence against him was security camera
footage of a shopping trip for chemicals in Colorado.
although the Times Square bomber tried to disguise the car, it was still
quickly traced, providing detectives with an important lead.
while law enforcement officials tout a brave new world of security,
rights groups fear a "big brother" presence violating fundamental
The New York Civil Liberties Union has sued the
Department of Homeland Security in an attempt to extract more
information about the Manhattan security system and to know how the
information will be used, shared and stored.
The irony is that the
lowest tech responses can sometimes best the most sophisticated gizmo.
misfiring of a device hidden in the underpants of a Nigerian passenger
and the quick reaction by others on the US-bound flight prevented
potential tragedy in a December 25 attempted airliner attack.
in Times Square, a vigilant street vendor and nearby beat cop -- not a
computer -- raised the alert on the suspicious vehicle.
about the street vendor. Think about the passengers on the flight on
Christmas Day," said Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra.
these people perhaps were the difference between a major disaster and
actually what happened: a failed terrorist attack."
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