OGDEN From his desk in the police department watch commander's office, Lt. Scott Sangberg can call up images from dozens of surveillance cameras placed around this city.
"We can monitor from here, 20 at any one time," he said this week. "Some of them we can control, and some of them we can't. We can record things, go back and observe what happened."
Police plan to add more cameras around the city in an effort to fight crime. Some areas under consideration include parking lots at popular trailheads and along Ogden's historic 25th Street.
"We have a couple of very heavily used city parking lots," Sangberg said. "People park their vehicles while they go backpacking, and we've had vehicle burglaries."
Take a walk through the new Junction development, the transit hub or any city-owned facility, and you will see the surveillance cameras.
"We also have cameras on top of Mt. Ogden," Sangberg said. "That's to watch our electronic equipment up there and our communication equipment."
Police said the cameras are effective at helping with security and investigating crimes. They have used the devices to track down suspects or even discredit reports of crimes.
"We've had a couple of burglaries in The Junction where we've got pretty good pictures of the guys who did them," Sangberg said. "Then we've also had people who claim their vehicles are burglarized, and we go and watch, and see that they've never touched them."
The proliferation of surveillance cameras is becoming a fact of daily life. They have been decried by civil rights activists as an invasion of privacy. Yet in a post-9/11 world, more cameras are being installed.
A report released this year by the American Civil Liberties Union's California chapters criticized the use of surveillance cameras and questioned their effectiveness at combating crime.
The Institute for Applied Autonomy, which describes itself as an organization "dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination," has launched a program called iSee, which allows people to chart "the path of least surveillance." The iSee program maps surveillance cameras in New York City and allows people to plot a course that would let them come under the view of the fewest cameras.
Other privacy activists have taken to performing street theater, acting out skits for the cameras.
In Utah, several school districts recently started implementing surveillance cameras inside schools. At Viewmont High School, Bountiful police used surveillance video to track down a man suspected of sexually assaulting several women while they were jogging.
Ogden police said the cameras can serve a purpose."As long as you use them in public access areas, there's no problems," Sangberg said. "We don't have anything that's not in the public domain."
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