A new $2.5 million plan to install hundreds of additional traffic light-mounted cameras at city intersections in Detroit is getting community pushback over privacy and racial discrimination concerns.
(TNS) — A $2.5 million plan to install hundreds of traffic light-mounted cameras at city intersections is getting community pushback over privacy and racial discrimination concerns.
The addition of 200 cameras will build off of an initial 121-camera pilot, resulting in the technology being deployed to more than 300 of the city's 787 lights by
Akinyemi, during a Monday night public meeting on the proposal, said that public safety is a "human right," noting 2,074 people were seriously injured or killed in the city from 2014 to 2018.
"One is too many. We have 400 every year," Akinyemi said. "What we are trying to do is find a way to make things better."
But some attendees of the virtual meeting shared worries over the cameras being used to issue tickets, infringe on people's rights or to target Black men.
"I'm going to say it straight out. What I see occurring is this being used to target Black males in
The debate over the traffic-mounted camera expansion comes amid ongoing tensions over privacy and policing and
That nearly $200,000 contract with
During Monday's presentation, Akinyemi said the cameras cannot identify people or license plates and aren't like the city's Project Green Light surveillance cameras, another technology that has been contentious.
"It's not predominantly a police camera," he said. "It has a very low resolution that you cannot identify people."
The cameras can however be used by
The technology, officials said Monday, can be used for real-time notifications of power outages from weather or crashes, remote adjustments of signal timing during events, closures and crashes, and to improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles.
"We might not be talking about facial recognition today, but that doesn't mean we won't broach that subject tomorrow, next week or next year," said Nolish, adding "you cannot go down these routes without having firm frameworks of anti-racism, and we need that and we need it now."
City policy limits the police department's access to traffic cameras. Police cannot use the footage to determine immigration status, use audio from the recordings or focus the cameras on flyers, handbills or other materials distributed or carried to protect First Amendment rights.
The city has had 280 criminal homicides year-to-date and 10,596 aggravated assaults,
"To try to pick out anything just random to find and investigate, we simply don't have that type of time," he added.
Any future changes to the traffic camera policy would have to be approved by
"Of all the problems that our city faces, I don't know if getting hit by a car is necessarily one of them," she said. "What has been the research that says this is our priority need with this money? Why aren't we asking more questions ... of all of the needs we have, why are we choosing this one?"
"We need surveillance," he said. "I'm just saying here as a citizen, I'm for cameras."
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