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Charleston Mayor says use of cameras in Britain bombers' search shows city needs to blanket high-crime zones with video surveillance cameras.

Charleston Daily Mail | July 02, 2007
Justin D. Anderson

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said the methods British officials are using to investigate two failed terrorist car bombs in downtown London bolster his case that the city of Charleston should blanket high-crime zones with video surveillance cameras.

"Over there, the police don't even carry guns," Jones said today. "So I think this is the future for our people that want to be smart about fighting crime, and in this case, terrorism."

British officials are scouring an abundance of footage captured by closed-circuit television cameras at two sites where Mercedes Benz cars were found containing propane tanks rigged to explode and spray nails on passers-by.

So far, seven suspects have been arrested in connection with Friday's scare in London and another episode a day later at the Glasgow International Airport in Scotland, where two men crashed a Jeep Cherokee packed with flammable materials into the terminal entrance.

Two years ago, video surveillance in London helped authorities identify and nab several Islamist extremists who ignited bombs on the city's public transit system, killing 52.

Four of the terrorists were spotted on surveillance footage entering a train station on the morning of the bombings.

In the wake of the failed attacks last week, Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., is calling for wider use of surveillance cameras across the country.

"The Brits have got something smart going on in England, and it was part of why I believe they were able to so quickly apprehend suspects in the terrorist attacks over the weekend, and that is they have cameras all over London and other of their major cities," Lieberman was quoted as saying in The Hill newspaper.

Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said it was "common sense" to expand video and other types of surveillance, and he criticized his congressional colleagues for partisan bickering that has stalled the efforts.

Jones said he agrees with Lieberman's stance, especially for densely populated urban areas.

The mayor has said that in Charleston, cameras should first go up in high-crime zones and in areas that are well lit, like the lower West Side and along Frame Street.

Jones said in other areas, lighting will have to be enhanced in order for the cameras to be able to show what's going on.

London seems to have set the standard for the world when it comes to video surveillance.

The city already is blanketed with closed-circuit television cameras. Great Britain on the whole is equipped with about four million cameras, according to the BBC.

Cameras in London have been used for more than 50 years, but their usage and the public funding for them increased under the threat of terrorist bombings by the Irish Republican Army.

In Charleston, city officials plan to travel to other areas that have the cameras in use in order to get a better grasp on the costs and logistics, Jones said.

Officials here haven't yet decided in what order areas of the city will get the cameras, which could be funded by a proposed increase in the $1-a-week user fee.

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