Buffalo takes new anti-crime camera system live

New police nerve center gives a big picture of city

One 87-year-old lifelong resident of the city's Kaisertown section told The Buffalo News that a camera recently installed at Clinton and Weimar streets has chased away a lot of problems, including loitering.

"But we could still use a police satellite center [in Kaisertown], especially now with summer coming," the man said.

Gipson agreed that even sophisticated surveillance cameras can't replace officers.

"They help enhance our ability, but the real job of policing is still left to boots on the ground," Gipson said.

A new class of officers will hit city streets this summer.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns that the camera network could invade people's privacy. Brown downplayed the concerns, saying he has only heard a clamor from block clubs requesting cameras.

Gipson said he knows of only one property owner who expressed concern during the pilot project; she wanted to make sure the camera couldn't zoom in on her window. Gipson said the system has filters to block out specific areas, so cameras can't, for instance, take images of residential windows. Gipson insisted that the Police Department has no desire to "play Big Brother."

Copyright (c) 2008, The Buffalo News, N.Y. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.