Cops to ratchet up surveillance in midtown
The “ring of steel” is coming to midtown.
The extensive surveillance network that encircles nearly two-square-miles of downtown Manhattan will be replicated between 30th and 60th streets — from river to river — beginning in 2011, city officials said Sunday.
“The events of the last few weeks just underscore the need to remain constantly vigilant against another terrorist attack,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the NYPD’s surveillance monitoring nerve center on Broadway to announce $24 million in Homeland Security grants for the new network. The project will eventually cost $111 million.
Standing before three wall-mounted screens showing footage from cameras on downtown streets, a satellite image of Manhattan overlaid with data and a continuous stream of information from 911 calls, Kelly and Bloomberg said the expansion of the network is a part of the city’s anti-terrorism strategy.
Like the downtown network, the midtown expansion will include hundreds of publicly and privately owned cameras, license plate readers and chemical and radiological detectors. The NYPD also wants to add facial recognition technology and software that spots patterns, such as a truck repeatedly circling a block or unattended packages.
Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which went to court seeking information about what the NYPD does with the data, said not enough is known about how cops use this “massive collection of information about law abiding New Yorkers.”
“The details of this plan have been withheld from the public,” she said.