NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – North Charleston officials are planning to install hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the city, but not everyone is on board with the plan.
Back in April, city leaders revealed they are going to roll out 745 new surveillance cameras, in addition to the current 120. The cameras are part of a larger project called the Joint Operations Center, which police said will include an Automated License Plate Retrieval System and facial recognition capabilities.
The Charleston Democratic Socialists of America are opposing this plan with a new petition.
According to Paul Bowers, surveillance networks in other parts of the country have been known to target black and Hispanic communities.
“It leads to criminalization; it leads to mistaken identity arrests. People getting confronted just for walking in the wrong neighborhood when their skin is the wrong color. That doesn’t keep us safe, and it only alienates us further,” said Bowers.
Bowers said he would rather see officials build more affordable housing and invest in youth programs to help combat crime.
As for the license plate readers, Bowers cited data from the American Civil Liberties Union showing the system mostly tracks the movement of drivers who haven’t committed any crimes.
Officials discussed their plans for the Joint Operations Center right around the time dozens of shots rang out during a youth baseball game at Pepperhill Park in April.
Blake Ferguson’s son was on the field that night. He said cameras could’ve helped find those responsible for the gunfire.
“In a public place, it can just hinder bad people from doing bad things, if they know they’re being recorded. I don’t see any issues with it and I’m definitely in favor of it,” said Ferguson.
Some community members are planning to speak out against the cameras during the City Council meeting on June 9th.
News 2 reached out to city leaders and North Charleston Police, but they were not available.