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Watchful Eyes Placed Around Buffalo

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – The city of Buffalo Thursday installed the first of five surveillance cameras for a test of the high-tech policing equipment. Eventually, there will be at least 50 of the cameras installed throughout the city. Officials answered questions Thursday about where and who the cameras will be watching.

Officials said the state-of-the-art cameras will be able to identify a gun and alert a 24-hour monitor. The cameras can capture images up to a quarter mile away in every direction and clearly identify a face or license plate number up to 400 yards.

Police and city offials hailed the system as a valubale crime-fighting tool. But similar systems have raised privacy concerns in some cities.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said criminals are the targets - not the law abiding public. "There will be no Big Brother stuff," said Brown.

Brown said they met with community groups in Buffalo for a year to hear any of their concerns. Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson said what they heard instead was clamoring to get cameras installed. He said those decsiions will be based on an analysis of high crime areas.

But Big Brother does appear to have the upper hand - at least deciding where the cameras go initially.

The mayor confirmed that four of the five test cameras are being located in neighborhoods near the Peace Bridge to address homeland security concerns. However, he said, eventually, there will be plenty to go around.

Private organizations, such as block clubs or schools, even will be allowed - and encouraged - to purchase additional cameras that the city would connect to the system.

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