Nashville Approves CCTV System for Crime-Prone Areas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A second Tennessee city is going to try using a network of surveillance cameras to monitor activities in areas with high crime rates.

The Nashville Police Department has plans for six cameras in the downtown nightspot area and a neighborhood to the east. More cameras could be installed if the system is considered successful.

Police Chief Ronal Serpas said he hopes that the cameras will catch criminal acts and deter some from committing crimes.

The department's $1.6 million asset forfeiture fund, which comes from the seizure of property or money during an investigation, will pay for the system.

Memphis police installed a dozen cameras in the mid-1990s in the downtown business district, but the system was abandoned because of technical problems.

Similar projects across the country have been criticized as an invasion of privacy.

Serpas said hopes to sidestep that complaint by not hiding Nashville's cameras. The equipment will have visible police logos and flashing, rotating blue lights.

''We're not playing hide-and-seek with criminals,'' he said. ''This is going to say, 'We're right here and we're watching this block.'''

But some critics argue that the system could be used to capture confidential information such as conversations among attorneys and clients, reporters and sources and business partners.

''Nashvillians need to seriously examine and debate the extent to which we want to have cameras and other automated technologies perform law enforcement functions,'' said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee.