Police chief wants surveillance cameras in downtown Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib wants to install 24/7 surveillance cameras on Massachusetts Street to help limit the area's increase in crime, but residents are concerned the cameras may impose on their privacy.

"I'm looking to have a pilot project, install three or four cameras, monitor what kind of success we have with them and be able to report back to the public," Khatib said.

But University of Kansas junior Steele Carrington said there's not enough crime to require cameras: "Why would you put up cameras? Surveilling what?"

Twenty-year resident Kim Johnson said cameras would help.

"I think it's important to go back and see what happens and have accountability for actions," Johnson said.

Khatib took questions for an hour and half Tuesday night in his second of two public meetings. Residents raised concerns about who would monitor the cameras and who would have access to the video.

"We have concerns from a civil liberties perspective: privacy, freedom of speech," said Gary Brunk, the executive director for the ACLU of Kansas and western Missouri. "I would argue that most Americans don't want to live in that kind of society where we are constantly survey."

Khatib said he plans on addressing the residents' concerns as he revises his policy. He plans on presenting the plan to the city commission after the first of the year.

The cameras would be funded by a grant of about $48,000.

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