New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference on Monday that the interpretation of the Constitution should change to allow for increased security in the wake of the Boston bombings.
"We live in a complex world where you're going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days. Our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change," said Bloomberg, The New York Observer reported.
Bloomberg emphasized the need for increased security cameras throughout the city. "The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry," he said, but, "we have to understand that in the world going forward, we're going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That's good in some sense, but it's different from what we are used to."
"It really says something bad about us that we have to do it. But our obligation first and foremost [is] to keep you safe if you go to a sporting event [and] to keep you safe if you walk down the streets or go into our parks," he said. "We cannot let the terrorists put us in a situation where we can't do those things. And the way to do that is to provide what we think is an appropriate level of protection."
This was not the first time that Mayor Bloomberg called for increased security in New York City. Last month, on his weekly radio address, Bloomberg criticized the New York Civil Liberties Union for objecting to the number of surveillance cameras in New York. He said, "You wait, in five years the technology is getting better, there will be cameras every place. The argument against using automation is just this craziness that 'Oh, it's Big Brother.' Get used to it!"
The ACLU, both nationally and locally, has actively fought against the use of surveillance cameras by law enforcement, stating that they "pose a threat to privacy and free speech." The Northern California ACLU issued a report detailing how surveillance cameras "do not significantly reduce crime in city centers" and stated that "Given surveillance cameras' limited usefulness and the potential threat they pose to civil liberties, the ACLU recommends that local government stop deploying them."
Throughout the country, local ACLU chapters have boasted of successfully halting or limiting cameras in their respective cities. In Cambridge, Mass., where the Tsarnaev brothers lived and where they allegedly murdered Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus policeman, the City Council voted against using surveillance cameras after being pressured by the local ACLU. Cambridge had installed eight cameras but the cameras have never been activated.
Local and federal authorities pointed to the Lord & Taylor security cameras located near the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing, which helped them identify the suspects quickly – within a few hours of the authorities releasing footage of the suspects to the public.
There are approximately a few hundred government surveillance cameras in public places and approximately 400 in the subway in Boston compared to the more than 3,000 cameras in the financial district alone of New York City.