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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lansing surveillance cameras an invasion of privacy, ACLU and neighborhood group claim

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Residents of some Lansing neighborhoods say they worry that police surveillance cameras may be invading their privacy. 

The cameras were first installed in 2008  and are in now 13 locations.

Randy Watkins is a member of a Lansing group called the Coalition Against Monitoring and Surveillance.

He says an American Civil Liberties Union report bears out the group's concerns. He also claims the cameras target mainly African American neighborhoods.

"We are taking the steps to work together to look at the privacy issues, their impact on minority neighborhoods, and see where we can work together because our overall goal is to make sure that we have a safe city," Watkins says.

Watkins says Lansing police have been very cooperative about looking into the issue.

"I don't want to give the impression there's animosity, because there's not," Watkins says.

The ACLU released a report called "Eyes in the Sky: Lansing Residential Surveillance and Its Intrusion on Privacy."

"This report, like studies from around the world, shows that video surveillance is a costly, invasive and ineffective means of deterring and fighting crime," says Michael Steinberg,  ACLU of Michigan legal director. 

The ACLU report warns that the cameras could be used abusively, such as voyeurism, stalking or harassment.

The ACLU also says the cameras haven't helped police solve major crimes. It plans to ask the Lansing City Council to consider removing the cameras.