The mayor of Dubuque is recommending the city spend more than $150,000 to add to the more than 1,300 cameras already surveilling the city.
The ACLU of Iowa doesn’t like the idea — but Dubuque Chief of Police Jeremy Jensen defends the system. He tells KCRG TV camera’s are instrumental in helping his department solve crimes. “It helps us be just quicker. It just changes the speed at what we can do investigations by quite a bit,” he says.
David Ness with the city’s Traffic Engineering Department added the cameras aren’t just for solving crime and provide valuable information. “You know, a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth that much more,” Ness says. Ness cites the example of a camera on the highway near the Q Casino which helped them monitor people coming and going from a concert to see what type of traffic issues they have. “They are used citywide…and it makes us all more efficient at our jobs,” said Ness.
The Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa, Mark Stringer, says the ability to investigate crimes more quickly is not a good enough reason to have this surveillance, let alone using it to study traffic. “We’re not supportive, generally suspicious even, of local governments using video surveillance to watch and record people just because they want to,” Stringer says. Police Chief Jensen said people in Dubuque had privacy concerns when cameras went in initially — but he says they now “pretty much expect us to be checking the cameras.”
Stringer said it’s important for people to reflect on why do they feel like they need to do this.