Friday, January 20, 2006

Big Brother Is Watching You


Federal Grants Bring Surveillance Cameras to Small Towns
Village in Vermont Has Almost as Many as D.C.

Washington Post: BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. -- This snowy village, in the shadow of Fall Mountain and alongside the iced-over Connecticut River, is the kind of place where a little of anything usually suffices. There are just eight full-time police officers on the town's force, two chairs in the barbershop and one screen in the theater.

A little of anything -- except surveillance cameras. Bellows Falls has decided it needs 16 of those.

Using federal grant money, police plan to put up the 24-hour cameras at such spots as intersections, a sewage plant and the town square. All told, this hamlet will have just three fewer police surveillance cameras than the District of Columbia, which has 181 times Bellows Falls's population.

Similar cameras are already up in the Virginia communities of Galax and Tazewell, where police can pan right down Main Street, and in tiny Preston, Md., with two police officers and five police cameras. An interest in public, permanent video surveillance -- as well as the federal dollars to pay for it -- seems to be flowing down to the smallest levels of American law enforcement.

So far, the growth of small-town surveillance camera systems has not received much national notice. But it already seems to be changing the way such Mayberry-size places are policed.
...(more)

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