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Black leaders ask city to install surveillance cameras in high crime areas

In recent years, there has been public uproar whenever Seattle police want to use surveillance cameras to monitor crime. Now black leaders are asking police to do just that, but with conditions.
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SEATTLE -- In recent years, there has been public uproar whenever Seattle police want to use surveillance cameras to monitor crime. Now black leaders are asking police to do just that, but with conditions.

It's an idea that keeps coming up, over and over again.

"In high crime areas I don't think it's a far-fetched thing to consider," said Katoya Palmer.

Palmer has lived in Seattle's Central District for eight years, one of the city's hot spots for gun violence.

Palmer is open to surveillance cameras to fight crime, but she has concerns.

"We don't want to feel the police are profiling our young men and women," Palmer said. "We don't want to feel like they're using force that's unreasonable. We don't want to feel like we can't come to these corners are congregate."

Despite sharing those concerns, black leaders say they are fed up with the gun violence they're seeing in their neighborhoods. They are asking the mayor and the Seattle Police Department to install surveillance cameras in crime-ridden areas.

"Support some sort of camera system with a sunset date. I get people's privacy but our lives are at stake," said Pamela Banks, president of the city's Urban League.

"If the community is coming to us and they're demanding cameras in a high crime neighborhood, then we need to be responsive, we need to work with them, but we need to have policies around retention, around privacy, to ensure that we strike the right balance," said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole.

The chief says she will get community input and work with the ACLU to come up with a surveillance camera program. The department will also look to other cities like New York who have implemented them successfully.

O'Toole points out that SPD has made strides cracking down on gun violence. Through a partnership with ATF and the State Patrol, they've been using a tool called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to track links between gun crimes.

Investigators used NIBIN to connect one gun to at least 10 shootings. Thursday, SPD released a photo of two unidentified men who may be tied to a gun used at 10 different shootings in Seattle in the last year and a half, including a shooting in the Central District last month.

While there is no magic bullet to solve gun violence in the city, city leaders say they can find ways to tackle the problem.

"We do have to do something, even if it's incrementally," said Mayor Ed Murray.