EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 23, 2013

Security camera success in marathon probe boosts local use

More surveillance devices coming to Haverhill

HAVERHILL — The importance of security cameras in identifying the Boston Marathon bombing suspects has Haverhill looking to expand its use of such cameras.

Mayor James Fiorentini said the city will install security cameras inside and outside City Hall, in and around the Merrimack Street parking garage, and at various playgrounds and ball fields.

Haverhill police began deploying stationary surveillance cameras in 2009, mostly where thieves repeatedly broke into cars and vandals put graffiti on buildings and other structures. The Eagle-Tribune reported that year that the city bought 16 surveillance cameras for $4,000 each.

But in light of the crucial role that surveillance cameras played in the identification and capture of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Fiorentini said there's new interest in deploying more of the cameras locally.

In the past, not everyone has supported expanding the use of the cameras. While many people see them as a valuable public safety tool, others consider them an invasion of privacy or don't trust how the government will use them.

In Haverhill, police said the cameras have captured images of drug deals, people vandalizing buildings and instances of illegal dumping. But some residents have also raised concerns, suggesting some cameras might be able to see inside homes or used to spy on law-abiding citizens.

"When I was on the council many years ago, I opposed them," Fiorentini said of the cameras. "But the world has changed."

The mayor said he has asked police Chief Alan DeNaro to develop a proposal for more security cameras in the city, including where they should be deployed and how they could be paid for.

The mayor said the Police Department has a grant to pay for the installation of several cameras outside City Hall in the next few weeks. Several more cameras will be installed inside the building this summer, he said. Cameras will also be installed this summer inside the Merrimack Street parking deck, on busy downtown streets and at several playgrounds, he said.

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