Video cameras, installed without notice in 2008, have been recording activity around the clock in Cal Anderson Park, to the chagrin of some anti-surveillance protesters. But it was supposed to be a pilot project—a pilot project that was slated to end in January of this year. However, the cameras are still recording. Perhaps it would make sense to keep the cameras if they'd been doing any good. But as technology and liberty project director at the ACLU of Washington Brian Alseth writes, the footage has never helped police in an investigation and the time to yank the cameras is now:

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  • ACLU of Washington
Seattle police made approximately five requests for live investigation assistance using the cameras and reviewed stored footage six times during the pilot. In not one of these instances were the cameras of any use whatsoever. None. The city auditor's review of the pilot program was unable to determine whether the cameras have had any effect on crime prevention, but noted that a scant 4% of people polled felt safer because the cameras were there. Despite this, the police department has argued the cameras should remain, because the ongoing cost would be insignificant and because the cameras might someday prove effective. [...]

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By definition, a pilot project must reach an end, at which point the effectiveness of the project is evaluated. That time is now and the evaluation is simple; public surveillance cameras in Cal Anderson park have not been an effective law enforcement tool in any way whatsoever.

City council member Sally Bagshaw, chair of the council's parks committee, held a public hearing on the cameras last month, but she hasn't taken a position on keeping or removing the cameras. She should.

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