Port Angeles will soon have up to 26 publicly funded surveillance cameras in its waterfront area, thanks to a combination of federal grant money and city funds. The city already has 16 analog cameras that were installed in 2009, but the devices gave poor quality and have rarely been used in prosecution, officials said Sunday.
“The fact is, we’ve had these cameras for many years,” said Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher, “I don’t think we’ve used them in an improper way.”
Total cost for the cameras is around $240,000 and will include wireless capabilities. They will be placed along the downtown shoreline, just as a $17 million waterfront development is constructed.
City officials said despite the lack of a major crime problem in the area, cameras will help protect the multimillion-dollar investment, as well as the public.
Gallagher said the same company the city was working with is handling Seattle’s surveillance camera system along Alki Beach. That has been a controversial issue among many, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which contends surveillance cameras violate public privacy.
It’s also part of a broader increase in publicly funded camera systems in the region. In addition to red light and license plate cameras, cities like Woodinville have either considered or approved the technology.
“I understand that can make people uncomfortable,” Gallagher said.“It’s a sign of the times. We would like to have analog privacy and we live in a digital world.”
Port Angeles city leaders said in the time the cameras have been in place, there have been no complaints. The new cameras should be installed by 2014.