Residents and justice groups attended the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission Research Committee meeting Tuesday. They were there to speak out against new standard operating procedures involving surveillance cameras from the Milwaukee Police Department.
"Surveillance cameras are very intrusive and should be debated thoroughly," said Gretchen Schuldt of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative. "What are police using it for? What kind of arrests are being made? Is it some guy smoking a joint on the street? Or is it a carjacking where someone can get seriously hurt?"
Department officials told the commission and those questioning the cameras,
"If a shooting, for instance, occurs and officers are responding, the public camera mounted on public property can be utilized to zoom in and hopefully capture the individual that is involved in a crime, can capture the actual shooting as it's going on and possibly capture a description and lead the officers in the right area," said Regina Howard of Milwaukee Police.
Howard stressed, "They are simply utilizing public spaces where the public has the right to be as well as the police department has a right to be. And they are simply used to help the police department address crime. We have finite resources and the cameras are just another set of eyes that helps law enforcement."
"I need people to help me figure out how you can strike a balance between public, private, those who want it, and those who don't," Commissioner Ann Wilson said. "Ultimately the commission decided to delay a vote on the new procedures while more information is gathered and questions raised tonight are answered.