Bloomberg calls surveillance-camera critics ‘ridiculous’
(N.Y. Daily News) LONDON – Mayor Bloomberg has a message for New Yorkers who don’t like surveillance cameras: Get real.
“It’s just ridiculous people who object to using technology,” the mayor said, adding that he had not talked with anyone in London who wasn’t “thrilled” at the presence of security cameras in their capital.
The Daily News reported yesterday that a camera in lower Manhattan has been secretly recording license plates in a test of the planned “Ring of Steel” surveillance system.
The plates are compared against a database so the NYPD can immediately know when a suspicious car or truck is in the area. London has such a system in place in its financial district.
Bloomberg, appearing with London Mayor Ken Livingstone at a news conference, said New Yorkers are “very naïve” if they don’t realize they are already being watched.
“We are under surveillance all the time,” he said, pointing out that cops grab video from private closed-circuit cameras when crimes are committed.
As for privacy concerns, he said, “You’ve already given that away when you buy a car and register it and put a license plate on the back, which is basically putting your name on the back of the car.”
Livingstone agreed that Londoners feel safer because of the cameras, saying he couldn’t recall a single letter of complaint.
The mayor called his visit a “busman’s holiday.” He rode a double-decker bus with Livingstone, viewed a hybrid taxi and visited a police control room, where he saw the original “Ring of Steel” in action.
City of London Police Superintendent Alex Robertson said the surveillance system to monitor every vehicle that enters the square-mile financial district – known as the City of London – was pioneered to combat IRA terrorism.
As a demonstration, he displayed a screen image of the car Bloomberg arrived in. “I’m the handsome one in the back,” Bloomberg quipped.
Noting that London has a camera in every bus and subway car, Bloomberg said, “We are way behind and we really do have to catch up.”
Bloomberg also talked about another London innovation he admires – congestion pricing, introduced by Livingstone in 2003. Londoners pay $16 to drive into the center of town. Bloomberg said he believed the New York State Legislature would pass his plan to introduce pricing on a pilot basis in the city.
The mayor, who has a home in London’s posh Chelsea neighborhood, said he expected to spend more time here once he leaves office.
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