TAMPA - Some of the additions for the Republican National Convention could be here to stay, including some 60 security cameras downtown.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn feels the cameras make Tampa more secure. But not everyone agrees.
Some 60 security cameras were installed for the RNC. The conventioneers are gone and Florida's ACLU's president Mike Pheneger feels the cameras should go too.
"What happens with these cameras is that you are under constant surveillance," said Pheneger. "Surveillance cameras do not deter crime."
Pheneger said studies back his claim. But the police and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn disagree. The mayor said the surveillance of an ever-growing city will help keep citizens safe.
The cost to maintain them is covered for the next year in a maintenance contract. The city spent $2 million of a federal grant to purchase them and Buckhorn feels it's a good investment.
Not Pheneger, even if that means losing money. "That is city's problem to worry about. I would take them down and see if I can recoup any of the money," said Pheneger. "If the city decides to keep them it's very important that the City Council establish some very clear rules and policies on how they are going to be used and how they are not going to be used."
The mayor's office says the Tampa City Council will discuss the issue during a workshop. One of those members, Frank Reddick, isn't opposed to the cameras but feels citizens could be better served.
"I truly believe that the areas with the highest concentration of crime and areas that there are high concentrations of illegal dumping, that we can make better use of those cameras," said Reddick.
Reddick feels they should be moved to areas like East Tampa, Sulphur Springs and Grant Park.
The mayor's office said Buckhorn is not opposed to that discussion but still feels downtown would see the greatest benefit.
Pheneger hopes there may be some room to change his mind, and if they need to stay, move them to places like parking lots and near ATMs.
"The cameras are good in very limited and specific roles, but they are problematic when they are used for generalized surveillance," said Pheneger.
The Tampa City Council is expected to further discuss the cameras on September 20. But Mayor Buckhorn has the final say on where the cameras will be placed.
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