Small-town video surveillance

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Small-town video surveillance is being funded using federal grant money either for community policing or homeland security. "Spokesmen for the departments of Justice and Homeland Security said they were unable to compile information about how many small-town camera programs the agencies had funded, or how much had been spent," the Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold reported January 19, 2006.

Privacy advocates have expressed concern "that several of the towns have no policies about who or what could be surveilled with the cameras. That's in contrast to the District [of Columbia], where police have agreed to use the cameras only during demonstrations and civic emergencies, and not to arbitrarily monitor anyone because of race or gender," Fahrenthold wrote.

"So far," Fahrenthold reported, "Vermont has been one of the few places where police cameras have kicked up a public fuss. Last year in Brattleboro, public outcry helped shoot down a proposal for surveillance of a downtown parking lot." And now Bellows Falls, Vermont, "has decided it needs 16 of those," which will give the town "just three fewer police surveillance cameras than the District of Columbia, which has 181 times Bellows Falls's population."

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