Police Chief wants 200 new cameras.
A Houston suburb is thinking about whether to expand what some call a 'big brother' approach to crime prevention.
Sugar Land Police Chief Douglas Brinkley is asking city council to find nearly $3 million in next year's budget to install an additional 200 cameras on major roadways, parks, city facilities, even neighborhoods.
The program would be phased-in over two years, allowing the city to re-evaluate it next year.
"We're already tied in to cameras in the commercial district, we can get that feed right into all of our police cars," says Brinkley. "So it was just a natural transition to use it on a larger scale and bring it throughout the city itself."
Roughly 140 of the new devices would allow police to read hundreds of license plates within a minute in areas where a crime has occurred. Sugar Land police already use eight such cameras.
"If someone's home is broken into at two o'clock in the afternoon, we could grab the License Plate Recognition video a half-hour before and after, and at least we could recognize some of the vehicles in that area around the time of the robbery or burglary," he says.
However, Debra Medina of the group We Texans asks where does it all stop?
"This retrospective we're going to look and dial up a camera to see if maybe we can solve some crimes better is appealing maybe on the surface to individuals, but it undermines the very essence of who we are as human beings," says Medina.
"You've got to go back to 1890 when Louis Brandeis, who later became a Supreme Court Justice, said we have a right to privacy," she says. "Certainly these cameras invade that right in a very real way with little evidence they help prevent or solve crime."
The police chief argues the license plate recognition cameras are pointed at traffic, not on a business or private residence.
A final decision is expected in the coming months.