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SF Supervisors Hesitant To Add Cameras In Wake Of Boston Bombings

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A crime camera. (CBS)

A crime camera. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Following the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon last month, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors held a hearing this week to review security plans for the large-scale events planned over the next several months in the city, but some voiced concerns that new safety measures should be balanced with individual privacy rights.

Supervisor Eric Mar called for the hearing, held Thursday afternoon at the board’s neighborhood services and safety committee at City Hall, shortly after the April 15 bombings that killed three people and injured scores of others at the Boston race.

Mar said he wanted to see if any security measures should be revised before upcoming events like the Bay to Breakers race on May 19 or other events like the Pride parade, Outside Lands music festival and America’s Cup races in the city later this year.

One proposal floated by police Chief Greg Suhr was to install more surveillance cameras along Market Street to allow authorities to monitor the events in real-time, but Suhr backed away from that plan during Thursday’s hearing.

The chief said rather than install new cameras at this time, the Police Department will be mapping the current layout of cameras along Market Street and working with private businesses that have surveillance cameras to cover any blind spots.

Mar and fellow Supervisor David Campos said they had expressed reservations about Suhr’s initial proposal.

“We have to balance the need to keep our public safe with a respect for privacy rights,” Mar said.

Campos said terrorist attacks often lead to law enforcement actions “that go beyond where we should be.”

Campos also criticized an announcement made earlier this week by Bay to Breakers organizers that large backpacks would be banned at the race.

“I don’t know if that’s really going to address the problem,” he said.

One speaker during the public comment portion of the meeting said he did not mind cameras during the large events, especially with so many people who have smartphones with cameras on them as well.

Police Deputy Chief John Loftus echoed the importance of public participation in preventing crimes at the events.

“Our collective safety is a shared burden,” Loftus said. “If you see something, say something.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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