Everyone can now patrol this city’s streets for crime. ACLU says that’s a bad idea

NJ.com: “All eyes are on the city of Newark, literally.  The city recently revealed its new “Citizen Virtual Patrol” program, which places 60 cameras around the city’s intersections, putting the city’s streets, and those who venture out on them, on display seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

That isn’t startling, as cameras have been up in the city for the past dozen years, says Anthony Ambrose, the city’s public safety director.

What is new, and not found in other cities, is that police officers won’t be the only ones trolling for criminals. Now, anyone who’s willing to submit their email address and upload an app onto their home computer or phone, can watch those cameras.

Citizens can then alert police when they see suspicious activity and remain anonymous.  “Right now, in this era of society, it’s impossible to be outside without being recorded,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “We need to be able to use that technology to allow the police to do their job more efficiently and more cost effective.”

Those extra eyes, however, come at a cost. The cameras could also provide stalkers with their victim’s whereabouts, show intimate scenes and even when residents leave their homes vacant as they head out on vacation.

The American Civil Liberties Association of New Jersey is asking Newark to end the program, saying it’s a violation of privacy and the Fourth Amendment.

“Newark is crowdsourcing it’s responsibility to the public instead of engaging in policing,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.

“There’s a fundamental difference between a civilian using their phone to record a certain area than government having cameras where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Sinha said….

The city also plans to launch a campaign informing residents about the cameras.

“It’s about transparency,” Ambrose said. “We’re not saying we put cameras out there and you don’t know where they are at, we’re telling you.” …(More)”.