LAS VEGAS (AP) - Clark County Sheriff Bill Young is pushing for the gambling industry to install and manage an expanded surveillance camera system on the Las Vegas Strip that could film robberies, fights and other crimes and alert police immediately.
"For a very reasonable investment, I think we can provide a much more secure net to encompass the entire tourist corridor," Young told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Young estimated it would cost about $3 million to get the program involving about 120 surveillance cameras up and running, not including operational costs.
"The idea would be to expand on what they have now. None of the cameras would be on public property; they would all be on private property," he said, adding, "We'd all benefit from it."
Several casino companies said they wanted more information on Young's proposal.
"Harrah's shares Sheriff Young's commitment to public safety, and we look forward to hearing more details of his proposal next week," said David Strow, spokesman for Harrah's Entertainment Inc.
Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage Inc., said, "We are always appreciative when law enforcement comes up with new proposals for public safety to enhance safety and will await the details of the sheriff's proposal."
Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, called the proposal a move in the wrong direction.
He cited several examples where personal information already is being collected using security cameras in casinos and cited the FBI's use of "national security letters" to get information from casinos, libraries and other institutions without a judge's approval.
"People who come to Las Vegas ought not take it at face value that what happens here stays here," Peck said. "Instead, they should be willing to make peace with the idea that they are giving up, to a very significant extent, their right to privacy."
Young said a recent visit to London, as well as examples in Chicago, showed him how well surveillance cameras could work. Closed-circuit TV, a network of between 2.5 million and 4 million security cameras, covers the United Kingdom. The cameras were installed in part as a tactic to fight the Irish Republican Army in the early 1990s. Last year, CCTV in London caught images of suicide bombers entering a train station.
Young said the expanded use of cameras in Las Vegas is a response both to terrorist threats and the amount of crime in the Las Vegas Valley. He disputed that this is an example of "Big Brother" invading people's lives, namely because law enforcement would not be responsible for it. Because the gambling industry would operate it, he maintained that it would be similar to the cameras already in place.
"We have to be the safest tourist destination in the world," he said.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com