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Posted on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

University of Michigan student group pushes for ordinance to restrict police surveillance cameras

By Heather Lockwood

A group of University of Michigan students calling themselves Students Against Surveillance is pushing for an ordinance to restrict the use of police surveillance cameras in Ann Arbor.

Cameras haven't yet been introduced or discussed here, but group members say they're advocating for an ordinance after cameras have popped up in several other cities.

The proposed ordinance calls for a ban on police surveillance cameras in outdoor parks and residential areas, and would restrict the use of cameras to "high-crime" areas of the city, said William Leaf, an SAS leader and U-M history junior.

"We're not trying to ban surveillance cameras — we're trying to restrict them in a fair and good way," Leaf said.

  • Download a copy of the proposed ordinance here.


Lansing Police Department surveillance cameras are shown on a pole.

Photo courtesy of William Leaf

Leaf said his two main motivations for creating the group and writing the ordinance are to prevent potential government abuse of power and to protect "privacy for its own sake."

"Police shouldn't have total access to personal lives," Leaf said.

The public is invited to attend an SAS meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Michigan Union's Sophia B. Jones room.

The city of Ann Arbor doesn't currently have a police surveillance system in place. And Ann Arbor Police Lt. Angella Abrams said she has heard "nothing whatsoever" about the possibility of police surveillance cameras eventually being used in the city.

Bennett Stein, a U-M public policy junior and SAS member, said once the systems are in place, it's hard to get them removed because money and resources have already been invested. That's why SAS hopes to have restrictions in place before cameras ever are — if they ever are.

"(The use of surveillance cameras) is a quickly growing trend, and right now the police have the power to put them in wherever they want," Stein said.

Rana Elmir, spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union, said police surveillance systems are "ineffective, expensive, and undermine our privacy."

"(The ACLU) opposes surveillance cameras, especially in residential areas," Elmir said. "There's a growing body of research ... which shows cameras' effect on crime is inconclusive and ineffective at best."

She said video surveillance systems, especially in residential areas, "chill innocent speech" and do very little to deter crime.

There's also the potential for abuse of such systems, Elmir said.

"Camera operators are human and, therefore, they make mistakes — the surveillanve videos can be used for inappropriate purposes, whether voyeurism, stalking or harassing," she added.

Elmir said the use of surveillance systems is a policy issue more than a legal issue.

"Is this how we want our society to be?" she asked, likening the systems to Big Brother or something out of George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984.

Stein said even though SAS is a student group, surveillance issues impact the entire community. "We want to work with the community," he said.

He added, "Surveillance cameras, in themselves, may not be illegal, but the potential for abuse is very great."

Leaf said the proposed ordinance offers a middle-of-the-road alternative. He said police surveillance cameras should only be used when necessary, and not for the "mass surveillance of the people."

"Some cities haven't wanted to put in surveillance cameras at all, and some cities have gone to the extreme (in using them)," he said.

Leaf said the group's next steps are to gather support and find a city council sponsor.

The Lansing Police Department currently uses 13 of what it calls public video surveillance cameras, said Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski.

The cameras were installed from 2008 to 2009, and all but two are in residential areas, according to department spokesman Lt. Noel Garcia. 

  • Download a map indicating the general locations of the cameras here.

Garcia said having the surveillance cameras is an "officer safety issue." When a crime is committed in view of one of the cameras, police dispatchers are able to watch the incident in real-time and provide crucial information to officers responding to the incident, he said.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.



Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

@Matt Cooper: Will and I have provided links to multiple empirical studies conducted by independent researchers. I suggest you read them.


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

Here is the evidence that cameras are ineffective. Both Sources are reputable. (1)Assessing the Impact of CCTV (2)One Thousand Cameras solve one crime


Wed, Nov 3, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

That's nothing. Within about six months, when you go to fly on a US airline you'll have the choice of being subjected to radiation in a body scan whose results will show too much detail to some anonymous TSA person, OR you can have a full-grope pat-down. But you'll SURELY be safer for it. Or not.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:51 p.m.

@Joe and Alpha: And your opinions are based on what? Quote me an empiricle study. Give me a link to accurate information. You claim, as does the ACLU, that these cameras are "ineffective". Ok, prove your claim. And I don't mean with some op/ed piece from the Podunk Daily News. I mean with real date from a reputable source.

joe average

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

Don't these kids have anything better to do with their time, like study? For that matter, don't I have anything better to do with my time...? Hovercars, really? Wow.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:40 p.m.

"For the ACLU to claim that the use of cameras is "inconclusive and ineffective at best" is something I strongly disagree with." You may 'feel' that way, but the data is on their side.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:39 p.m.

@Matt Cooper: While your story about the police dashcams is interesting, i think that comparing these to residential cameras is something of an apples to oranges situation--especially when you bear in mind that studies that have dealt with the issue directly say that cameras are ineffective in preventing crime. Again, cameras are not a guarantee of safety and don;t seem to be a useful tool for the police (given their proven ineffectiveness). Given this, it seems silly to give up more of our rapidly eroding civil liberties to a technology that seems to have no upside--i'd rather spend money on more police officers than install cameras.

Matt Cooper

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

For the ACLU to claim that the use of cameras is "inconclusive and ineffective at best" is something I strongly disagree with. Since the advent of the use of cameras on police cars (dashcams) many cases have hinged on the use of these cameras to either prove or disprove claims made by both the police as well as potential offenders. There was one case in particular, for example, where a female arrestee claimed rather vociferously that the officer that arrested her groped her between her legs, under her shirt and did other acts just short of raping her. She made this claim often and rather loudly. That is, of course, until the dashcam video was shown to her. She admitted her lies and was then charged with filing a false police report. If the use of cameras in residential areas helps the police to prevent crime, solve crime, protect the lives of citizens and increase overall safety, I have no issue with them.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:21 p.m.

Well thank you Edward. That makes it all worthwhile. We could never rely on a school crossing guard, or a passing patrol car, to report the same. :)


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:42 p.m.

As to possible uses of public surveillance: lets have concrete examples of those. What have the traffic cameras at intersections accomplished?

Marvin Face

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.

SamuelR, thank you for the kindergarten logic lesson. I appreciate simplistic if/then scenarios. I guess my answer then would be, yes.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6 p.m.

@ EyeHeartA2: You wrote in your last post: I noticed several illegal couches in the slide show, so I would call Greenwood St. a high crime area for this alone. I understand your concern that it wouldnt take more than a few crimes for any given city block in Ann Arbor to have a crime rate higher than 90% of other city blocks. (The ordinance states that cameras can only be installed on city blocks whose crime rate is higher than 90% of all other city blocks). But there are two reasons why, were this ordinance to be passed, illegal couches would not lead to security cameras on Greenwood: First, Greenwood is a residential street, and the ordinance would prohibit installing surveillance cameras on any residential streets (See Section 5-C). Second, it seems to me that minor infractions, like having a couch on the porch, do not factor into the citys official crime rate. The citys official crime rate is devised based on statistics of A) violent crimes and B) property crimes (such as burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny). It does not seem to me that having a couch on the porch is either a violent crime or a property crime. Thus, illegal couches on porches would not factor into raising a city blocks crime rate and could not (under this ordinance) lead to the installation of surveillance cameras on that block.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:39 p.m.

*Correction -- I left out a word. Should have been: @ David Cahill: I *agree* with the user Speechless from her/his post 3 hours ago...


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

@ Marvin Face: The ACLU works to protect the constitutional rights of all American citizens. If you are indeed for everything that the ACLU is against (or vice-versa), then does that mean you are against protecting our constitutional rights?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

@ David Cahill: I with the user Speechless from her/his post 3 hours ago: What these U-M students are doing now will be very meaningful in the long run. It's so much more productive and protective of basic, everyday rights to actually discuss these things ahead of time and not foolishly wait until a moment of perceived crisis, when instant decisions will no doubt be made. This group isnt in search of a problem for their solution; the group is taking proactive measures to prevent something from happening that is already happening all across the country. And that is something that could realistically also happen in Ann Arbor.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

Street cameras (CCTV) have a huge presence in the UK. For better on occasion, though usually for worse, London has become a global model for the practice of municipal street surveillance. By 2002, that city alone maintained a network of around 500,000 installed cameras along streets and in public areas, with some 4,200,000 estimated to then exist nationwide. Any discussion of future camera surveillance here in Tree Town, Lansing or elsewhere should include a better awareness of how this practice has played out in London. Below are a few links for a quick sampling of opinion and information on the experience of being watched near the River Thames: A conservative media pundit hates the cameras: CCTV not enough?  Hundreds of traffic enforcement cameras on the way: Ride the London bus?  Sixteen channels for viewing pleasure: A one-line summation for surveillance policy in Orwell's homeland: Watching the watchers throughout Europe: An irony here is that while mainstream conservatives initially championed these cameras back in the day, their realization as policy fell to political centrists like Tony Blair (who at times appropriates progressive rhetoric).


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

"We're talking about students, young people away from home for the first time. " Stop! You're frightening them!

Marvin Face

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 4:14 p.m.

I didn't read the article but saw that the ACLU is against surveillance cameras. I guess this means I'm for them then.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

"Data from research suggests that CCTV video surveillance is successful in reducing and preventing crimes and is helpful..." Gosh. What a surprise! The cited "study" was funded by folks who want to install cameras.

David Cahill

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

This guy Will Leaf has been running around for the past couple of years shopping his proposed ordinance to anyone who will listen. So far no takers. Locally this is a "solution" in search of a problem, since there are no cameras in Ann Arbor.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

There is no reasonable expectation to privacy in a public place. A surveillance camera merely reords what any citizen can see. Are we not glad cameras were rolling during the Rodney King and Clifton Lee, Jr police abuse incidents? Irrebuttable proof of who is telling the truth.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 3:38 p.m.

I agree entirely with this article. I believe that there is a huge risk for abuse when you instal security cameras. By chance, does the author, or does anyone, know if there are security surveillance on University of Michigan's (Ann Arbor) campus? I am thinking of the streets surrounding South Quad and want to know whether there is surveillance or not? Please if someone could get back to me! Thank you. Great article!


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

@SemperFi Our soldiers gave their lives to guarantee freedom in this great country and you want to throw that away. You give our government an inch, they will take a mile. Not only is our government using dangerous radiation nake body scanners at airports, now they are violating our Fourth Amendment by using more powerful x-ray machines to scan our cars and houses without warrants. That is right. Our government has purchased 500 vans equipped with x-ray machines to scan our houses in secret. Nazi, Germany would have loved this technology. What else is our government doing: 1. Satellites designed to track terrorist are being used on us. 2. Putting tracking devices on cars without warrants. 3. Training boyscouts to take on returning veterans. 4. Asked firefighters to spy on residents since they do not need a search warrant. 5. Torture. 6. Rendition. 7. Obama has given orders to assassinate U.S. citizens. 8. Illegal wiretapping. 9. Infraguard - giving corporate employees the license to kill. 10. Detention without a trial. Also called pre-crime. I am sure I missed a few. Oh. al-Awalki is U.S. intelligence. He met with Pentagon brass two months after 9/11. So is bin Laden (died in 2002). Look it up!


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

Knowing the proclivities of AA's leadership class these cams will mostly be reserved for spying on Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Green Partiers, business owners and other political and economic minorities they fear, hate and distrust.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:58 p.m.

"People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both" A paraphrased quote by Benjamin Franklin. I just thought it was fitting to post it here. I would support this ordinance.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

"... once the systems are in place, it's hard to get them removed because money and resources have already been invested...." That's right.  At that point we'll have to sell municipal bonds to fund removal. What these U-M students are doing now will be very meaningful in the long run. It's so much more productive — and protective of basic, everyday rights — to actually discuss these things ahead of time and not foolishly wait until a moment of perceived crisis, when instant decisions will no doubt be made. My best guess is that the city administration may eventually want to roll out street cameras as a way to reduce the number of police officers. They would view the high installation expense as an investment that will pay off over the long haul through fewer union salaries and lower pension costs. City officials might present the sacrifice of liberty and civic privacy as a sensible, prudent financial move in a tough economic environment. A rollout plan would likely start with a few 'trial' installations and then expand from there.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

@greekgod: Here is a short summary of several studies conducted here and abroad that show surveillance to have little to no positive effect on crime. No one here wants more crime or less effective policing, the point is that cameras offer a FALSE sense of security while presenting an enormous potential for abuse. The idea that this is just a bunch of students who simply don't want to get MIPs is ludicrous and terribly condescending. Is it so hard to believe that a group of students actually care about the civil liberties of their neighbors as well as their own?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:41 p.m.

@greekgod: Here is a short summary of several studies conducted here and abroad that show surveillance to have little to no positive effect on crime. No one here wants more crime or less effective policing, the point is that cameras offer a FALSE sense of security while presenting an enormous potential for abuse. The idea that this is just a bunch of students who simply don't want to get MIPs is ludicrous and terribly condescending. Is it so hard to believe that a group of students actually care about the civil liberties of their neighbors as well as their own?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

Here is evidence that cameras do not make a moderate difference in preventing or solving crime. (1)Assessing the Impact of CCTV (2)One Thousand Cameras solve one crime The "evidence" you gather is anecdotes from police officers. That same article that YOU QUOTE ends: "Given the important role that crime prevention plays in law enforcement, surprisingly little is known about the effectiveness of new technologies such as CCTV video surveillance to prevent or discourage crime. " Also, we already have privacy in public and we need it. Even in public the police cannot record our phone calls or search our persons without a warrant or probable cause. If you ever feel that you need to be alone outside or spend time with your friends and family without being monitored by the police, you already depend on privacy in public.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 1:10 p.m.

Sometimes I don't want the legal things that I am doing watched! Thanks for the info Mr. Vielmetti.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

Public areas are just that... Public. So, if anyone wants to record a video in a public area, they can do it without recourse. What they do with the video is, of course, subject to existing laws. Having our duly appointed law enforcement community keep an eye on things seems like a pretty good idea. Supplying them with tools of modern technology to assist them to do their job is also a good idea.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

well, I for one have no problem with police surveillance, but then again, I don't break the law, even the minor ones like jaywalking. I say, you only have to worry if you're doing something illegal.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

@eyehearta2, Cedar Fest and Cedar street are two different things and two different cities. Cedar Fest is in a apartment complex in East Lansing and Cedar Street is a street in Lansing nowhere near there.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

@ Joe, prove it. All I see is you preaching, but you offer ZERO facts. @ Ian, please, surveillance is the norm in other countries. President Jefferson would have installed cameras in his slave quarters if they had been around. Trust me. @ Ram, yes, still America. You can even have a gun. Try that in Europe?!


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

We're talking about students, young people away from home for the first time. Experimenting with drugs, sex, and societal norms. C'mon, you paranoid people this is only if things get worse. Besides, remember the recent case where a student lost the vision in one of his eyes because some jerk cold-cocked him? Well, surveillance would have been very helpful in figuring out exactly what happened and coaborating what the victim and witnesses observed!


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

Those cameras look expensive - it would be a shame if somebody painted the lenses black...


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Is this America anymore?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

In general I agree with this sentiment. There was that case in Maryland where a student was charged with attacking the police only to have video surface showing it was the police that attacked the student. Complete with falsified police report. Right. But keep in mind that the video that surfaced was shot by bystanders with their cell phones. There were surveillance cameras but somehow the video from the one camera that would have shown the beating was 'inadvertently' destroyed: "After the iPhone video of McKenna's beating emerged, investigators subpoenaed 60 hours of surveillance video from the College Park campus police. The only video police couldn't manage to locate was the one from the camera aimed squarely at the area where McKenna was beaten. Funny how that works. Campus police claimed that a "technical error" with that particular camera caused it to record over the footage of the beating." What we really need is not so much an ordinance against surveillance cameras, but an ordinance that makes it clear that it is legal to videotape police in the line of duty AND severe consequences for any cops who 'forget' the law and illegally order citizens to stop filming or confiscate cameras (as police have done routinely in many places).


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

@Greek God, The surveillance, monitoring and spying on US citizens has nothing to do with post 9/11. All the planning and infrastructure being put in place by Homeland Security is for us in the guise of protecting us. About 90% of what Homeland Security is doing is for us. The "war on terror" is a hoax to take away our liberties. If terrorist are such a threat, why is our boarder with Mexico wide open! THINK! Also, don't you remember what our politicians told us. They said, if we allow the terrorist to change our way of life, they will have won. It is the federal government that is changing our way of life with so many draconian laws against our liberties. I guess they are the terrorists. As another wise man said, "If tyranny comes to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - Thomas Jefferson


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

@deborah: what makes you think that we as students are either "elites" or unconcerned about the installation of cameras in minority neighborhoods? If you;d read the ordinance or the article you'd see that the ordinance bans surveillance cameras in ALL residential neighborhoods--not just "elite" ones. @greekgod: you cannot simply cite a solitary study that claims surveillance cameras can reduce crime...there are just as many that show that cameras have no effect on crime and there are even study that show that cameras can INCREASE crime. And, again, the ordinance does not ban surveillance cameras in every instance. @luge machine: apathy is an understandable reaction given the fact that there aren't currently any plans to create a mass surveillance program in ann arbor, however given the experiences of communities across the country (and Lansing, MI), being proactive hardly seems inappropriate. Once these cameras are installed they will not be taken down. To all those who think that this is some half-baked scheme concocted to make partying easier: stop being so naive! This is a seriously thought out effort to maintain ann arbor as the type of community that we want to live in.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

haha funny lugemachine! However, threats to our privacy do already exists. Thanks SAS for being watchful.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

Um.. funding? Installation and maintenance of a large-scale surveillance system is a very costly prospect. Since there is currently no discussion nor indication that the City plans to install municipal cameras, why is this even an issue? I'm concerned about other things that don't yet exist. Isn't anyone thinking about the potential menace of the proliferation of hover-cars?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 10:07 a.m.

I have no problem with cameras installed on UofM property, the perimeters of buildings, parking structures, the Diag or the stadium etc. I have no problem if they install them in public spaces that have been known to be problem areas. But I don't want them in residential neighborhoods. I don't even like how Google has mapped my street and shows a view from the front and above my house. It's very creepy.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

Mr. Vielmetti, are these web cams updated? The only live feed I seem to be able to get is in front of Rick's. And I want to see if my son is going to class this morning, or not.....


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:45 a.m.

I haven't read the proposed ordinance, but I did look to see where the cameras in Lansing are located. With the exception of just a few, they really appear to be smack in the middle of residential neighborhoods. I don't mind a camera that monitors a broad, sweeping area such as a park, public bathroom areas, or large parking areas. But I don't want one (unless it is my own) watching my home! I don't even like to see my vehicle parked on the street in a google satellite image - license plate number blurred or not. (Here is an interesting link describing how to potentially remove unwanted images from a google satellite image for those interested: I would not want what happened in Lansing to happen here. How did they determine which block in a neighborhood to put the camera on? How did they decide whose home to put it in front of? Why not a block away? How helpful is it, if people can just move over a block and do the same things? I am in favor of limited surveillance in public areas - and I do mean limited. Although, as already mentioned, it can be a slippery slope. I do not think they belong in residential settings. Because of the potential for abuse, I commend the SAS in trying to be proactive. I think if there is an area where the residents want the cameras, they could petition for one, just as they do for speed humps. If I were a resident in such a neighborhood, I would proceed cautiously. Among other things, I would set a time limit on how long the camera was installed, with the possibility of an extension.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

I'm in agreement with the last few commenters: it's always seductive to give up some wiggle room in exchange for convenience and security. But the potential for abuse is always there, and small reductions in personal freedoms (like not being surveilled in one's front yard) add up over time. As Awakened suggested, any cameras should be installed by community request, rather than being imposed from without. If they're such an advantage, surely local residents will jump at the opportunity. Then again, if there's no one to monitor the hypothetical cameras, that heightens the likelihood of abuse. (I.e., enabling some unscrupulous deviants to watch others at will, while providing no real usefulness.) On another note, I am not a student, but when people comment that these students are just party animals looking to protect their underage drinking, I find the assumption small-minded and extremely condescending. Regardless of its flaws, this is a reasonable proposal put forth by a group of concerned citizens of voting age, being mocked and disregarded because of the youth of its proponents. Aren't we better than this? Past a certain point, age alone does not guarantee greater maturity.

Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

Greek God, I just dont want to live in a police state, in which we trade away privacy, for safety. This also has the potential to be used to target individuals who disagree with the government by way of selective enforcement.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

Cameras would not go in minority neighborhoods because the ordinance prohibits cameras in neighborhoods. In Lansing, the cameras were placed in minority neighborhoods. The people who think the students are trying to avoid getting caught drinking need to wake up. Why would students write and plan a law and fight a political battle, just to prevent cameras that have not yet been considered? Is that the most efficient way to not get caught drinking? Students live closer to downtown where the cameras would be allowed, so really it affects families more than students. The ordinance would be a model for other cities and could be an excellent alternative to Mass Surveillance.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Oh please! In a post-911 universe plenty of municipalities have installed surveillance equipment and seen a direct decline in traffic fatalities, speeding, property, and violent crimes! Data from research suggests that CCTV video surveillance is successful in reducing and preventing crimes and is helpful in prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing a crime, e.g. students, criminals, and gang bangers. Please read:

Atticus F.

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

I'm completely apposed to police cameras. However, if citizens want to set up cameras on private property to keep an eye on their surroundings, they should do so.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

@BlueNever! I take it for granted that when I go to the bank I'm on camera from the time I pull into the parking lot. I don't expect to be on camera when helping a friend push start their car from in front of their house.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

What does it say about our leadership when students have to speak up to protect our privacy and liberties from our Orwellian Big Brother? Either our political leaders have no idea what is happening beyond their little town or they are spineless to do anything about it. While we are at stopping surveillance cameras, we need to rip out naked full body scanners at airports, stop our government from illegally spying on US citizens, dismantle the Department of Homeland Security (term comes from Nazi, Germany), etc., etc., etc. I commend the SAS. Fight for your god given rights. As Ben Franklin wisely said, "if you give up your liberties for some security, you deserve neither liberty or security."


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

To those professing that cameras don't help law enforcement, consider this. I'm willing to bet that monitored cameras outside the bank of Ann Arbor showing two men dressed in ski masks, carrying a rifle (shotgun) approaching the bank might have raised enough suspicion to thwart the robbery. And then again a week later when another masked man approached the Lake Trust bank it would have raised alarms. In both cases the camera footage could have aided the police in the search for the robbers (since we have fewer officers to respond).


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.

ahh the elites do not want a camera watching them! But they do not mind if they watch elsewhere like say the poorer neighborhoods. UM students disgust me


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

Are they next going to say that crime is an expression of free speech and "observation" shouldn't be a tool for deterrence? Sounds more like some students have major parties lined up that they don't want mommy/daddy to see.

David Briegel

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:05 a.m.

Wouldn't this help Andrew Shirvell?


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

There is no evidence the additional surveillance helps.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:43 a.m.

The city can't even buy new furnature for the new courts and police building and these kids are worried about the police spying on them and there MIP parties. Give me a break. Lets worry about some real issues with this city before we try and be proactive on issues that are baseless.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

I actually disagree. I know, I'm a liberal democrat but I truly believe that students are not capable of policing themselves, so the proposed ordinance calling for a ban on police surveillance is premature. As the University increases the student population annually, most of the infrastructure designed to protect and safeguard students and citizens alike has not kept pace; nor has the Universitys policies or security personnel. The University and the city of Ann Arbor ought to be allowed to keep the option of increasing police surveillance in the foreseeable future should the need arise. Recent city wide statistics cite in increase in underage drinking, rowdy behavior, disorderly conduct, rape, and burglary in various student ghettos throughout the city and without added surveillance and an ever shrinking police force, I dont see how students (cash cows) will be protected from themselves or others.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

In a democracy, police work is not supposed to be easy. Cameras further allow citizens to give up their resposibility to monitor their communities. We need more involvement, not less. Installation of these spy devices would make it easier for a police state to form.


Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

The concept is reasonable but the ordiance is not. First, the reporting and notification requirements are beyond the local police' funding and/or manpower. A block must have more "crime" than 90% of Ann Arbor neighborhoods. Littering? MIP? How about violent crime? What if we have another serial arsonist that has killed people? Or a serial rapist? Does rape and arson equal MIP? Third, the requirement that the block have more crime than 90% of other blocks means that in Ann Arbor residential locations would be confined almost exclusively to minority neighborhoods. Jailing single parents in poverty.... As an alternative: Let's have cameras on blocks where a majority of residence WANT it. Then they can REQUEST it. Then you don't need a meeting, mailed letters,hearings, boards and committees. Democracy beats bureaucracy every time. BTW- No one has time to watch you at the PD after 50% cuts. But if someone breaks into your home it would be nice to have them on disc.

5c0++ H4d13y

Tue, Nov 2, 2010 : 6:17 a.m.

In general I agree with this sentiment. There was that case in Maryland where a student was charged with attacking the police only to have video surface showing it was the police that attacked the student. Complete with falsified police report.